Pitonyak Seeks New Trial in Jennifer Cave Murder Case

Defense says new evidence proves Hall murdered Cave

Colton Pitonyak
Colton Pitonyak

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that Colton Pitonyak, serving a 55-year sentence for the gruesome 2005 murder of his friend Jennifer Cave, is not entitled to a new trial based on a claim that prosecutors withheld evidence suggesting that an accomplice, Laura Hall, was actually responsible for the crime. But Pitonyak's lawyers say they've now secured additional evidence that Hall confessed that it was she who murdered Cave.

The three-judge panel ruled that Hall's admission of guilt to a jail counselor was not illegally withheld from Pitonyak's defense, because the duty of prosecutors to disclose to a defendant all exculpatory, impeaching, or mitigating evidence – collectively known as "Brady material" – does not extend to a counselor, who is not responsible for investigating or prosecuting the case against Hall.

Pitonyak attorneys say they will appeal, to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, because the Fifth Circuit panel's ruling creates an impermissible loophole to the state's ongoing obligation under Brady. But they also say they've secured additional evidence, in the form of a sworn statement from a former friend of Pitonyak and Hall, Jason Mack, who this summer wrote an affidavit saying Hall told him she was at Pitonyak's apartment the night Cave was murdered, and that she was the one who actually fired the fatal shot. "Laura ... stated that if that bitch would have just shut her mouth I never would have had to kill her," Mack wrote.

Pitonyak attorney Chris Perri says the new information will be included in another appeal to be filed soon in state district court. "How many times does Laura Hall have to confess to Jennifer Cave's murder before we get a new trial for Colton?" he asked.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More News
AE's Solar Deal: 'Game Changer'
AE's Solar Deal: 'Game Changer'
Recurrent Energy price could lower energy rates

Nora Ankrum, July 4, 2014

Morrison to Mayor: 'It's Not Personal, It's Policy'
Morrison to Mayor: 'It's Not Personal, It's Policy'
Leffingwell refuses to give up Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Planning Org. seat

Amy Smith, July 4, 2014

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


News, Jennifer Cave, Laura Hall, Jason Mack, Chris Perri, murder, Brady, exculpatory evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Joe Turner, U.S. Supreme Court, courts, criminal justice

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle