Sunday, July 4, 2010
Laura Hall Takes Risk and Loses
at 1:45 PM
Video from Laura Hall's Sentencing Trial
(Note: If anyone can help us with our "Read More" code, which is no longer working, we be grateful for the help. Thanks!)
Colton Pitonyak was convicted of murdering Jennifer Cave in 2007, and he is now serving 55 years in prison. Laura Hall was convicted in 2007 for her part in the mutilation of Jennifer's body, and helping Pitonyak hinder apprehension. Laura Hall was sentenced to five years in prison.
After finding out that evidence was withheld from Laura's attorney, attorney Joe James Sawyer, decided to try for an appeal of her 2007 conviction. Her case went to the appeals court in 2009, but the appeals court upheld the conviction, however, it threw out the sentence. This forced Laura to go back to court to be sentenced again, in a sentencing hearing, which left Laura vulnerable for a jury to give her more time than the original year sentence.
Laura's decision to appeal backfired Friday, when a Travis County Jury sentenced her to the maximum 10 years in prison, following a tension filled hearing. The hearing included gruesome crime scene pictures, new witnesses, and 19 recorded phone calls that Laura Hall made while in prison.
Laura's angry phone calls were threatening. In one, Laura threatened to take down Sharon Sedwick, Jennifer Cave's mother. Laura belittled Sharon as well as, her own parents. In yet another phone call, Laura told her own mother, "I will kill you." (See video above).
Loren Hall, Laura's father, said that Laura is bipolar and that she was more pleasant, when she was properly medicated. He believes his daughter is innocent and had no part in the mutilation of Jennifer Cave.
Travis County Assistant District Attorney, Allison Wetzel, said Laura showed pure hatred when she mutilated Jennifer Cave's body. Wetzel says Laura doesn't think the rules apply to her, and she said Laura's bipolar wouldn't cause her behavior.
A handful of witnesses came forward: Nora Sullivan, a neighbor of Colton Pitonyak's, said Laura told her that she had to motivate Colton to deal with Jennifer's body. Olena Grayson, a former cellmate of Laura's said Laura told her that "the eeriest part was hearing the saw cut through the bone." Christie Freeman, convicted of burglary, said that Laura, during a group therapy session, made the statement that Jennifer Cave was a whore and just a dancer, and she deserved to die.
The mother and stepfather of Jennifer Cave, Jim and Sharon Sedwick, told of the shock and pain they had endured. Jim spoke of the horror of finding Jennifer's mutilated body. Jennifer's mother said, "This was someone that's evil."
The defense tried to convince the jury not to believe the witnesses who came forward, and he said that Laura was not a menace to society. He pointed out, that out of 41 items taken from the crime scene, Laura's DNA was only on seven of them. Defense Attorney Amber Elliot stressed that Laura's DNA could be excluded from the hacksaw, the machete, and the buck knife used in the mutilation. Defense Attorney Joe James Sawyer, said, "If disliking someone is enough to sentence them with a maximum number of years, then you will do so."
The Prosecution said Laura was a menace to society. They pointed out that Laura could not be excluded as a contributor to DNA found on a gun, used to kill Jennifer, a towel, and a pair of flip flops found in the bathroom, linking Laura to the bathroom crime scene.
Laura had already served two years, and she was eligible for probation. She took a risk when she decided to try to have her conviction thrown out in appeals court. Her conviction wasn't overturned, and the new trial which offered the allure of a potentially lighter sentence backfired. The new jury instead gave Laura Hall the maximum sentence of 10 years.
Do you think she should have been given the two years probation or the 10 years maximum sentence?
I think her risk went terribly wrong and backfired on her!
(Posted by Karon, a contributor to Eyes for Lies blog)
Click here to see a time line of events for the Jennifer Cave murder and trials.