Updated 03/20/2013 01:41 PM
Colton Pitonyak granted new hearing in West Campus murder, mutilation
The man behind one of Austin’s most gruesome and high-profile murders may see another day in court.
Colton Pitonyak was convicted of murder in the 2005 death and dismemberment of 21-year-old Jennifer Cave in a West Campus condominium. Cave was discovered dead in Pitonyak’s bath tub. She was shot, decapitated and suffered mutilation.
In 2007, Pitonyak’s defense team said an alcohol and prescription-fueled night led to the death of Cave. Then 24 years old, Pitonyak told the court he couldn’t remember the events of the evening. A Travis County jury found him guilty and sentenced him to 55 years in prison.
But now, Pitonyak’s new lawyer Joe Turner confirms to YNN the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a new hearing on his case.
Turner's previous requests for a new hearing failed at all levels of state appellate courts.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit disagreed with the lower-level state courts, choosing to grant Pitonyak's request. It will now head back to Travis County District Court for a new hearing.
Turner says favorable information for the defense, known as 'Brady' material, was not disclosed before Pitonyak's original trial. That favorable information was confessions from Laura Ashley Hall, Pitonyak's accomplice in Cave's murder.
Turner says records show Hall told two inmates she was in fact the one who killed Cave. Those inmates reported the confessions to Travis County jail counselors, who then documented the incidents.
During Hall's first trial, she was convicted for tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension and sentenced to five years in prison.
In 2010, a higher court ordered the sentencing portion of that trial to be reheard in district court. Hall was then received a harsher punishment of 10 years in prison.
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office also allowed for additional DNA testing in the case. Testimony presented in court indicated DNA from both Pitonyak and Hall was found on the handgun used to kill Cave.
Click here to read the court's order.