Pitonyak attorneys: Appeals process not over



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Posted on October 8, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 21 at 1:15 PM

Former University of Texas student and convicted murderer Colton Pitonyak suffered a legal setback Wednesday when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to hear his case.

KVUE's Jim Bergamo reports
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Pitonyak is serving 55 years for the murder of Jennifer Cave, whose mutilated body was discovered in Pitonyak's West Campus condo in August 2005.

It was Cave's stepfather who first discovered the body, and up until now, that has been the focal point of Pitonyak's appeals.

When the state's highest criminal court refused to hear an appeal from Pitonyak, lawyers for the prosecution and the defense say the court was affirming the private citizen's emergency doctrine -- which allowed Cave's stepfather, Jim Sedwick to enter Pitonyak's apartment, fearing the worst.

"I don't think they'll get anywhere though on trying to get the third court of appeals opinion in regarding the emergency doctrine reversed, I just don't think that's going to happen," said Bryan Case, an Assistant District Attorney with the Travis County DA's Office.

Pitonyak's lawyers agree, but say his appeal process is not over.

"We've been working on a writ in anticipation of the court ruling against us, so it's not the end of the line by any stretch," said Joe Turner, criminal defense attorney.

Turner says he'll be filing a writ in trial court on different issues which arose after Pitonyak's trial.

"For example the Laura Hall trial raised some issues that was not available to the trial court," Turner said.

Pitonyak's lawyers would not say what those issues were; however, when KVUE News informed Laura Hall's father, Loren, that evidence gleaned from his daughter's trial may be used in a future appeal by Pitonyak, Loren Hall told KVUE News:

"We all know that Colton killed Jennifer Cave. At his trial, the prosecutor said there's no way Laura Hall could have had anything to do with mutilating the body, so I'm not surprised that Colton's appeal has been denied."

Sharon Cave, Jennifer's mother, wished not to discuss the Pitonyak case.

Under state law, Pitonyak will have to serve at least 50 percent of his 55 years before he's eligible for parole.