AUSTIN (KXAN) - Colton Pitonyak, serving a 55-year prison sentence for the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave, should not get a new trial because of the confession of his one-time girlfriend, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled Wednesday.
The court's three-judge panel said in a written ruling that the "given the jailhouse context" of the confession by Laura Hall in the West Campus killing, it would be unreasonable for a court to grant it any weight.
"On these facts, fair-minded jurists of reason could conclude that Hall’s 'confession' is immaterial," the judges wrote.
Chris Perri, Pitonyak's attorney, said the federal appeals court was "too restrictive."
"We feel like if evidence is reasonably foreseeable, we believe the prosecution should look at the exculpatory evidence," Perri said. "We were really happy this circuit took the case and reviewed it but they're doing an overly restrictive analysis" of the law upon which the ruling was based.
Perri said he is considering appealing the ruling the the U.S. Supreme Court.
Police found found Cave's dismembered body inside the apartment in the summer of 2005.
Pitonyak's appeal was based on allegations that Hall's confession was withheld. Hall is serving a collective 11-year prison sentence for tampering with evidence in the cover-up.
In-Depth: Laura Hall's sentencing
After five years of emotional legal wrangling in the wake of the violent West Campus killing of a UT student, a Travis County jury sentenced Laura Hall on July 2, 2010 to a collective 11 years in prison and $14,000 in fines.
The sentence was the maximum possible for dismembering Cave's body, for which Hall had been convicted in 2007.
Cave's family began hugging each other as Hall showed little emotion during the verdict.
Hall's father continued to proclaim his daughter's innocence.
The jury gave Hall one year for a charge of hindering apprehension and 10 years for the charge of tampering with evidence. She is expected to serve the two sentences concurrently, and get credit for the two years she's already spent behind bars.
A jury convicted Hall in 2007 of helping former University of Texas student Pitonyak dismember Cave's body in a West Campus bathtub at the Orange Tree condominiums. Pitonyak is serving 55 years for the slaying.
However, the Texas Third Court of Appeals threw out her five-year sentence on Feb. 19, 2009.
In addition, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice rejected on Oct. 28, 2011 Hall's bid for parole.
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