AUSTIN (KXAN) - Testimony at Laura Hall’s resentencing trial continuedWednesday morning, with a jury of nine men and three womenconsidering a new sentencing for the woman convicted of tamperingwith evidence and hindering apprehension in the 2005 West Campuskilling of Jennifer Cave.
However, the Texas Third Court ofAppeals threwout her five-year sentence on Feb. 19, 2009. Meanwhile,Pitoynak is serving 55 years for the killing of his friend and UTpeer, then 21 - whose mother's boyfriend found her body.
Dr. Elizabeth Peacock, the doctor who performed Cave's autopsy,took the stand as the first witness. As they did when graphic crimescene photos were shown Tuesday, Cave's family left the courtroomwhen testimony about the autopsy began.
Hall’s mother and father sat in the first row, behind thetable where their daughter sat with her attorneys.
Answering questions from Assistant District Attorney AllisonWetzel, Peacock said there were a cluster of stab wounds onCave’s body that were made after Cave died, as well as agunshot wound to the head made after being decapitated.
Pictures from the autopsy were shown for the jury, and Peacocksaid the actual cause of death was a gunshot wound that wentthrough Cave’s lung and aorta.
Peacock said cutting through bone is not an easy process andthat a medical examiner's office has special equipment to do so.She said it would take time, commitment and strength for someone todismember the body with a hacksaw.
Peacock stepped down after about 30 minutes of testimony,followed by DNA analyst Cassie Carredine.
The analyst discussed the different pieces of evidence whichcould possibly have contained the DNA of Cave, Hall andPitonyak.
Carradine said Hall’s DNA was included in only seven of 41items taken from the apartment. However, she was excluded from someimportant items, including the machette.
Next on the stand was Deputy U.S. Marshall Joseph Smith, whotestified about the tracking of Pitonyak and Hall across theMexican border. A short video clip from toll booth surveillance inDel Rio, Texas was played for the jury - which shows Hall driving agreen Cadillac and paying a toll to cross a bridge taking them intoMexico.
Mexican police expelled the two when they were found to be thereillegally. U.S. Marshalls were contacted, and the two werearrested.
Smith said Hall appeared intoxicated on the three-hour driveback to the United States and talked constantly, stating she lovedColton, would stick by him and that it was up to Cave's friends toavenge the murder and not the job of police.
Hall never claimed to take part in the murder, according toSmith.
Court broke for lunch after Smith stepped down, and testimonyfrom people Hall made statements to about the murder is expected inthe afternoon.
Once court resumed, testimony from some of Hall’s formercellmates was heard, in which they said Hall made comments aboutCave’s murder.
Katie Olena Grayson shared a cell with Hall a month after themurder and said Hall told her that her boyfriend was cheating onher with Cave and that Cave was a stripper. Grayson said Hallconfessed to the murder and explained how the eerie part wascutting through the bone.
Another cellmate, Christy Freeman, said Hall called Cave a“whore who deserved to die.”
Hall's attorneys questioned the cellmates on why it would takealmost five years for them to come forth with this evidence, towhich Grayson responded, "It was none of my business," until shereceived a subpoena.
Former cellmate Henrietta Langenbach made detailed testimony ofhow Hall recounted the moments following the murder.
She said she arrived at Pitonyak's apartment to findCave’s body inside the bathtub in a fetal position and thatit was Hall’s idea to cut up the body because Pitonyak wassmart but “could not compartmentalize.” She then made alist of items for him to buy, including a saw and trash bags.Pitonyak had suggested going to Chicago, but Hall recommendedMexico.
Hall said it was her idea to sever Cave’s head, hands andfeet, since those are the body parts that could be used to identifya body. While the two stopped to have lunch at Mr. Gatti’s,Cave’s mother called Colton asking where her daughterwas.
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