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article imageOp-Ed: Murderers of Loretta Saunders given light sentences

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 29, 2015 in Crime
The couple who murdered Loretta Saunders in Nova Scotia were sentenced last week. You may find their sentences to be adequate - I'll soon note what they were - but no, they were too light. It's about punishment, yes, but it must also be about trust.
Sentences for Saunders killers
Before getting into their sentences, this is what Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry did to Ms. Saunders, pregnant, who had sublet her apartment to them: She was over to collect the rent when the two turned on her. It seems they didn't want to pay. Leggette choked her and smashed her head onto the floor, then covered her head with plastic to finish her off.
Henneberry mostly watched. She did not tell him to stop, did not rush from the apartment screaming for help, she did nothing to help Loretta Saunders. Indeed, we can presume she helped Leggette in some way. They planned it together, a diary he wrote said as much, maybe she suggested the plastic, even got it. Urging him to do it, she told him he "didn't have the balls" to.
But he did, and she got what she wanted.
Now this: these two vicious people then put the 26-year-old Saunders in a duffel bag and dumped her upon the side of a road, like trash they were trying to get rid of without paying a dumping fee. She lay there for two weeks before her body was found.
Meanwhile they used her credit cards and sent texts to her family on her phone to fool them so they would not begin a search. This is what they got for all that: Leggette, 25, got life with no chance of parole for 25 years, so he may be out at the age of 50. Henneberry, 28, has a chance of parole in just 10 years.
Victims of our mistakes
But here's this: Can we trust them again? And should we? Why? I'm not for treating them cruelly, I mean absolutely we should feed them and let them watch the hockey playoffs and even, with supervision, explore the Internet now and again. But why do they deserve to be in society again?
Certainly Loretta Saunders cannot. They took that away from her. I mean, look, fine, let them earn privileges in prison beyond their meals, like take a course, be permitted to play pick-up basketball, get lots of yard time. But they should not walk among us ever again.
Let's go over what they did to her again: Choked her, smashed her head to the floor, covered her head with plastic and stuffed her body into a duffel bag. They then dumped her, this young woman loved deeply by a grieving family, off to the side of some road. It is unclear if she died before being dumped or while laying there alone.
Now should you like, you can feel sorry for them. You can blame it on their upbringing, on Canada, on society, whatever. But that doesn't mean that after doing such a horrible thing they can be trusted. It does not matter if they weren't given the best of upbringings and it doesn't matter how they behave in prison, they still cannot earn back our trust.
No therapist on the planet can be 100 percent certain they won't re-offend. If they'd just threatened and punched her, refused to pay the rent, well, okay rehabilitate them and let 'em out down the road. But not after what they did. Besides, they don't deserve a chance to earn back our trust, which is a moot point given, again, there's no way we could be sure in any case.
Victim of violent re-offender
I could give to you now dozens of cases of people who have been let out and re-offended. Here's one of the most stomach churning: Raymond Lee Caissie​, 42, was a high-risk sex offender when he was released after spending most of the prior 22 years behind bars, his major conviction a vicious sex assault on a woman that included unlawful confinement and repeated attacks.
He was released despite his own concern about what he might do if free. On the occasion of his release in June of 2013, the RCMP issued a public notice to warn the community:
"Caissie has maintained a varied pattern of offending, having offended both violently and sexually, in both an opportunistic and impulsive manner," the RCMP said in that news release. “He is to be supervised by the Surrey Probation Office and is being monitored by the Surrey RCMP."
But what good did all of that do? No good. In September of 2014 he viciously murdered 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch. This wonderful young girl was the unfortunate, random victim of Caissie. Bad luck for her, she doesn't get to live her life, and her family will never be the same.
Or was it 'bad luck?'
It was not. Her needless death is on us for having a system that allowed her killer to go free despite his history. And here's this: it seems the voices heard the loudest are the voices that insist our laws should be about rehabilitating violent criminals. I get it that some offenders deserve more than one chance but not violent offenders with convictions that involve death, serious injury or violent sexual assault.
It's too late for Serena Vermeersch and of course no sentence handed down to Leggette and Henneberry could bring back Loretta Saunders. These two wonderful young women are gone. But it's not too late to make certain that those who killed Saunders will never get a chance to do such a thing again.
Anything short of life with no chance of parole is too light a sentence, for both of them. So hey, by all means let them eat cake - just keep them in prison while they're doing it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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