Appeals court to review evidence in Austin slaying - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Appeals court to review evidence in Austin slaying

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In 2005, 21-year-old Jennifer Cave was found shot, dismembered and mutilated in the bath tub at Colton Pitonyak's west campus apartment. He's currently serving a 55-year murder sentence.

"Colton's entitled to a fair trial and he never got a fair trial. He's entitled to an accurate trial," said Joseph Turner, Pitonyak's attorney.

After a several unsuccessful appeals, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is granting Joe Turner a review of evidence.

Turner said, "If someone confesses to the crime, to another person and there's a piece of evidence and you don't get that evidence, when would you get a new trial?"

"It's not new information and it's not really a Brady Violation," commented Travis County District Attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg.

She disagrees with the defense's claim that the state withheld favorable evidence, or "Brady material," in Pitonyak's original trial.

Lehmberg said, "The issue of whether or not it was a confession and whether or not it violated Colton Pitonyak's rights has been litigated now, four times...and all four times those courts and judges have turned down this very request."

Turner argues, Laura Hall, who is serving ten years for tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension, had more motive to kill Cave than his client...and the new evidence shows she admits it.

"Inmate Hall confessed to the murder of Jennifer Cave, that's the document," said Turner.

Lehmberg countered, "The statement itself really doesn't, is not self-incriminating as to Laura Hall."

"Now the district attorney's office can put their own spin on it if they want, and if they want to argue that to a new jury, let them argue that to a new jury, but this jury should hear the evidence that that's what was said," answered Turner.

The district attorney's office has agreed to Turner's request for post-conviction DNA testing.

"We don't know if there will actually be a hearing before the 5th Circuit. They may actually just be asking for briefs from both sides and there may or may not be an oral argument," explained Lehmberg.

Turner added, "A brief is due on April the 22nd, our brief is due the 22nd, then they'll have a chance to respond and then the judge will decide whether they're gonna have oral argument."

" We have total confidence in our verdict and our conviction and we just want to make sure the community does too," Lehmberg said.

Turner added, "If this evidence doesn't give a defendant the right to a new trail , then when, when do you get a new trial?"

Pitonyak's original trial lawyers say they would have chosen a different defense had they had this piece of evidence.

Sharon Cave Sedwick, the victim's mother said, "I think that's a very interesting risk that Mr. Turner and the Pitonyak's are taking, when Laura Hall got a new trial, Laura Hall got ten more years...Leave my daughter alone. She's dead."

Jennifer's mother says this is bad timing because they just honored her 29th birthday last Tuesday.

We were unable to reach Laura Hall's father for a comment.

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