The 2005 case of UT student Jennifer Cave’s murder may reopen

Alberto Long

The case of the 2005 murder of a UT student could find its way back into court because of previously witheld evidence.

Defense attorney Joseph Turner, who represented Colton Pitonyak, said Tuesday that the Fifth Circuit Court granted his appeal after petitioning the courts on the claim that it was Laura Hall who actually committed the murder, according to KVUE.

In 2007, Pitonyak was convicted for murdering Jennifer Cave in 2005 at his West Campus apartment and then mutilating her body. Pitonyak and Hall then fled to Mexico and were apprehended while attempting to cross back into the U.S. Cave, Pitonyak and Hall were all UT students.

Pitonyak was handed a 55-year prison sentence, while Hall received 10 years for tampering with evidence. 

Turner told KVUE that Hall confessed to the murder while in prison, informing other inmates who then reported her confession to prison officials. Turner said these reports were documented in the inmates’ files and were never turned over to the defense, and his previous requests for appeal on similar grounds were denied.

Turner said he has been granted an appeal on the issue of a Brady violation, which states that prosecuting bodies cannot withhold evidence that may benefit the defendant, marking an initial step toward an appeal and new trial. 

The Fifth Circuit Court, which granted Turner’s appeal, has yet to release information regarding the hearing.