04/22/2015 07:29 EDT | Updated 07/16/2015 10:59 EDT

Loretta Saunders murder trial: both accused plead guilty

Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry have pleaded guilty to murdering Loretta Saunders.

On Wednesday in Supreme Court in Halifax, Leggette pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and Henneberry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The pair will return to court on April 28 to be sentenced. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. Second-degree murder carries a life sentence and no parole eligibility of between 10 and 25 years.

Their trial started this week, but took a sudden turn Wednesday. 

Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk woman, disappeared just before Valentine's Day in 2014. Her body was discovered in the median of the Trans-Canada Highway, west of Salisbury, N.B., a couple of weeks later.

Saunders was writing her honours thesis at Saint Mary's University on missing and murdered indigenous women when she was murdered.

Police said Saunders was killed Feb. 13 in an apartment located at 41 Cowie Hill Dr. That's the address of the unit where Leggette and Henneberry were roommates with Saunders.

Saunders was last seen in the Cowie Hill Road area of Halifax on the morning of Feb. 13. Five days later, her car was located in Harrow, Ont.

Yalcin Surkultay, who dated Saunders for 2½ years, told CBC News that when he last saw his girlfriend, she told him she was going to try to collect rent money from her roommates.