Woman sent to prison after gruesome Austin murder to be released

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) - A former University of Texas at Austin student who has spent nearly eight years in prison for her role in the West Campus murder of Jennifer Cave is scheduled to be released on Thursday, March 15. 

In 2007, a jury convicted Laura Hall, 34, for helping her boyfriend Colton Pitonyak dismember 21-year-old Cave's body in his apartment's bathtub at the Orange Tree condominiums in August of 2005. Pitonyak is serving 55 years for the slaying.

Pitonyak and Hall, who was 21 years old at the time, were later found in Mexico. Police say Hall helped Pitonyak in the escape. 

Pitonyak told authorities he committed the crime after going on a date with Cave. However, his attorneys said the true killer was Hall and not Pitonyak.

Even though she was convicted in 2007, it took five years of emotional legal wrangling for a Travis County jury to sentence her to 11 years in prison. Her sentence included 10 years for the tampering with evidence conviction and one year for a charge of hindering apprehension -- both were served concurrently.

She was also allowed time served, which is why she's being released Thursday. 

The victim's family testified in 2010 that their family lives in fear and only feels safe when Hall is incarcerated.

Loren Hall, the suspect's father, pleaded to the jury that, if given probation, his daughter and her family can be rehabilitated. He also said his daughter had bipolar disorder. 

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, once released, Hall will be under mandatory supervision. 

Records show Pitonyak won't be eligible for parole until 2033. 

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