Posted on July 2, 2010 at 5:29 AM
Friday, Jul 2 at 5:31 PM
A jury has sentenced Laura Hall to a total of 11 years behind bars for her role in the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave.
An appellate court threw out her original five-year sentence.
The new nine man and three woman jury went into the retrial deliberations around 11:00 a.m. Friday following four days of testimony. Just before 4:30 p.m. it handed down sentences in both charges. A prior jury convicted her of hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence.
Hall was sentenced to one year in the county jail and a $4,000 fine for hindering apprehension. The jury sentenced her to 10 years in a state prison and a $10,000 fine for being found guilty of tampering with physical evidence.
Cave's mother, Sharon Sedwick, doubled over with emotion after the verdict was read. She wept so loud at times, her cries could be heard outside of the courtroom walls. She says they are happy tears. Still, she says, there is no closure.
"I hate the word closure. Satisfied. How can you be satisfied when your child is gone, when your child is dead? There is still no satisfaction," she said.
During closing arguements Friday the prosecution said, “We are asking for 10 years because that's all we can ask for. Make no mistake, we want it all. If you give us everything that we want, two things are going to always remain true: she's going to get out. She is going to get out, and images that Mr. and Mrs. Sedwick (Cave’s step-father and mother) have of the condition of their child will always be there.”
Hall maintained a straight face during both the closing arguments and the reading of her sentence. Hall's family sat behind her listening. Cave's family sat behind prosecutors.
In Hall’s original sentencing trial, the jury took two days in deliberation before agreeing on a sentence.
“We're prepared for the wait as long as it takes,” said Hall’s mother, Carol Hall, Friday morning.
Since Hall has no previous felony convictions, her lawyer asked for a sentence involving community supervision, which is also probation. She has already served 17 months of her original sentence. He urged jurors to review the facts in the trial rather than the emotion.
“I cannot imagine what it's like to lose a child to murder,” said Hall’s attorney, Joe James Sawyer. “If what they felt and what they saw is to be the basis to what we punishment, then 10 years is inadequate. One hundred years is inadequate. Or, do we return to that first batch of evidence and ask, 'What happened?' What is it that we are going to punish? Are we led by reason or not?”
Judge Wilford Flowers told jurors it is possible any prison time could be later reduced with good conduct, up to one-fourth of the time imposed.
Hall maintains her innocence in the mutilation of Cave's body.
Colton Pitonyak is serving 55 years for shooting and killing Cave at his West Campus apartment in August 2005. Prosecutors say Hall helped Pitonyak dismember Cave's body and then drove him to Mexico. Pitonyak is appealing his case, claiming Hall actually killed Cave.