'He couldn’t face us:' Loretta Saunders' family disappointed accused no-showed in court
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Family and friends of Loretta Saunders said they were disappointed they did not see the man accused of stealing her car in court Tuesday, but Saunders’ sister said he likely didn’t want to face them.
Blake Leggette, 25, arrived at Halifax provincial court on Tuesday morning for his arraignment, but didn’t appear in the courtroom.
“I was disappointed but I also feel that he might be breaking or something,” Saunders’ sister Delilah Terriak told reporters at the Mi’kmaq Friendship Centre Tuesday afternoon.
“He couldn’t face us. That’s what I feel.”
A large group of Saunders family and friends filled the first bench in the courtroom on Tuesday, sitting quietly through the brief hearing.
Defence lawyer John Black appeared on Leggette’s behalf, and the case was set over until Friday.
The judge also ruled Leggette cannot have any contact with Victoria Henneberry while in custody, who is charged with stealing Saunders’ car as well.
Halifax police said investigators are bringing back Henneberry from Ontario on Wednesday for questioning, and is expected in court Thursday.
Both have also been charged with fraud related to allegedly using Saunders’ debit card, which will be handled by the Ontario police.
They were reportedly renting an apartment on Cowie Hill Road from Saunders.
Saunders, a 26-year-old Saint Mary’s University student, hasn’t been seen since she left her Cowie Hill Road apartment on Feb.13.
Terriak spoke to media Tuesday alongside Loretta Saunders’ boyfriend, Yalcin Surkultay, and her brother James Saunders who recently arrived in Halifax. He stayed quiet during the meeting with his arm around Terriak.
“I’m trying to stay strong. I’m glad her family’s making me feel like family too,” said Surkultay.
Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, has been supporting the family and said it was “frustrating” not to see Leggette in person because they wanted him to see their pain.
But Terriak shook her head and said they are “too strong to let this break us.”
“We are getting her home. We are going to find her,” Terriak said.
“Of course we’re hurting and we miss her, but she would want us to do this with strength and composure, and to bring her home safe and think clearly.”
Terriak said she has stayed strong by drawing on memories of laughing with Saunders, and being around people she holds “so close to her heart.”
“Family is really important, and just drawing on the bond that we have. I can feel her out there. I can feel her. We all can,” she said.
Leggette will be back in court Friday for a bail hearing
She alludes to being sexually assaulted, but writes, "however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility."