In 2007, a Texan man named Colton Pitonyak went to trial for the Murder of a young woman named Jennifer Cave. Cave was murdered in 2005 allegedly in the West Campus apartment of Pitonyak. After her murder, Jennifer Caves body was dismembered. Currently, Pitonyak is serving a 55 year sentence for Caves murder. On Wednesday, January 28, Pitonyaks attorneys appealed his sentence.
The trial for Colton Pitonyak took place during 2007. The state alleged that he was the perpetrator in the murder and dismemberment of Jennifer Cave and that Laura Hall assisted him. Jennifer Cave was a 21-year-old who worked as a legal assistant. She had been out with Pitonyak the night that she was murdered. Pitonyak himself stated during trial that it probably was him who murdered Cave. He claimed that he had been using drugs and alcohol the night that she was killed. He also testified that because of this he did not have any memory of shooting her.
The most recent appeal in the states highest criminal court rested on the contention that another suspect had previously admitted to the murder. Laura Hall is currently in prison on charges of tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension after Caves murder. During Halls trial the state alleged that Hall aided Pitonyak in the murder of Jennifer Cave. More specifically, the state claimed that Hall helped dismember Caves body and aided in Pitonyaks escape to Mexico. Both Pitonyak and Hall were captured in Mexico. Laura Hall was sentenced to and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Laura Hall, the suspect, allegedly admitted to the murder. This confession, according to Pitonyaks attorneys, took place during Halls imprisonment. After Halls sentencing in 2010 she met Pitonyaks former roommate in a holding area. The man, Jason Mack, is now himself a convicted felon. (He is currently serving a 33 sentence for an aggravated robbery.) The two had a conversation in the holding area. They later rode to Travis County Jail in a detainee van. During this time the two discussed the murder of Jennifer Cave. Jason Mack claims that it was then that Hall claimed responsibility for the murder. He states she did it because she was in love with Pitonyak. Macks affidavit, containing these allegations, was submitted in this appeal.
Unanimously the court dismissed Pitonyaks appeal. The dismissal was based on Texas law that only allows inmates to one habeas corpus appeal. The only exception that would allow for an inmate to have an additional appeal is a circumstance under which new information is discovered and there is proof that this information was not available through the exercise of reasonable diligence. Essentially a appellant must demonstrate that after their sentencing important information was discovered and it was not easily discoverable prior to sentencing. This was not the first time Pitonyaks attorneys have appealed his case. They have previously argued that there were at least three other people who have heard Cave admit to the murder of Jennifer Cave.
At Brownstone Law we hope for closure for the family of Jennifer Cave and that the murderer be brought to justice.