After citing an alleged Brady violation, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Colton Pitonyak's attorneys mandated oral argument and an expedited appeal process.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to review Pitonyak’s case based on claims that an investigatory arm of the state withheld the exculpatory evidence containing Hall’s confessions during his initial trial in 2007. Pitonyak’s attorneys were granted a hearing based on a subsequent Brady violation, which according to an official court document filed on March 12 is “perplexing and [deserving] of further review.”
Pitonyak, a former UT student, is currently serving a 55-year prison sentence for the 2005 murder and mutilation of then-21-year-old Jennifer Cave, who was found shot and dismembered in a bathtub at Pitonyak’s West Campus apartment. Former UT student Laura Ashley Hall, a friend of Pitonyak’s who is described as his jealous lover according to court documents, is currently serving a 10-year sentence for tampering with evidence. Both fled to Mexico following the murder and were apprehended by authorities during their attempt to cross the border back into the U.S.
Pitonyak's attorneys have long suspected Hall is responsible for Cave's murder, citing a slew of evidence suggesting Hall confessed to the murder on multiple occasions.
Chris Perri, one of Pitonyak's legal representatives, said oral argument has been scheduled for August 27 in Austin. The opposing party's brief is due May 28.
"The [mandated] oral argument and expediting order [are] a positive step forward," Perri said. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but we're cautiously optimistic about these developments."