Colton Pitonyak will not receive a new trial in the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave.
Pitonyak was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison in 2007 for Cave’s murder and mutilation in West Campus. Earlier this year, his attorneys argued to a federal appellate court that a jailhouse confession made by Pitonyak’s friend and accomplice, Laura Hall, was withheld by prosecutors during Pitonyak’s trial.
A three-judge panel with the 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals decided that the confession—made to a counselor in jail—did not need to be handed over to the defense and that even if it had, it would have had no impact on the trial.
The judges also ruled the defense did not establish that “a mental health professional employed by a county jail has a duty to disclose potentially exculpatory information learned within the scope of a mental health relationship.”
In August 2005, Cave's body was discovered dismembered in the bathtub of Pitonyak's West Campus condominium. Pitonyak and Hall fled to Mexico hours after Cave's death, where they were later arrested.
Hall was sentenced to 10 years for tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension.