POLITICS

Accused in Loretta Saunders first-degree murder case could be tried separately

09/25/2014 06:36 EDT | Updated 11/25/2014 05:59 EST
HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia judge has set trial dates for two people charged with murder in the death of Loretta Saunders, but the cases could be tried separately if a motion to sever them is granted.

Judge John Murphy set aside four weeks for the jury trial starting April 20 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for Blake Leggette, 26, and Victoria Henneberry, 28, who are both charged with first-degree murder.

Leggette's lawyer, Terry Sheppard, said he was pleased the case could go ahead in the spring, adding that his client will have been incarcerated for more than a year by the time a trial starts.

"We were easily anticipating going into the fall of next year, so I'm glad there's a month available for a jury trial in the spring," he said outside court after the brief hearing Thursday.

One of the cases could be delayed if the judge accepts a motion by Pat Atherton, Henneberry's lawyer, to have the two accused tried separately. If successful, at least one trial will go ahead on April 20.

That request, along with other motions dealing with the admissibility of evidence, will be dealt with in court before the trial starts. A date was not set for that hearing.

Leggette and Henneberry were charged in the death of 26-year-old Saunders, who disappeared from her Halifax apartment in February.

Her body was found in a wooded area off the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick two weeks later.