48 Hours Mystery: In Too Deep

A UT Student is Accused of Being Involved in a Gruesome Crime; Was She an Accomplice or a Lost Soul in Over her Head?

Laura Hall says she didn't have a plan on what to do next after getting to Mexico, and that she didn't know what Colton Pitonyak was planning. "He was incoherent and in a sense, so was I. We were in no condition," she explains.

Colton and Laura fled Austin 16 hours after the murder. They drove Laura's dark green Cadillac some 200 miles to the Mexican town of Piedras Negras, a quiet border town just on the other side of Eagle Pass, Texas.

They weren't in Mexico for long. After five days, they were nabbed by a Mexican SWAT team and handed over to American authorities.

Back in Austin, Colton Pitonyac was charged with murder on Aug. 23, 2005. Laura was not arrested, but when police questioned her, she was less than cooperative.

"It was just too soon. I had just gotten away from him. I mean, I wasn't ready to be rational yet," she explains to Maher.

Asked what she told police, Laura says, "Just that I thought we were on vacation, I don't know anything about it, Colton's a great guy and he didn't do it."

"And that was a lie?" Maher asks.

"Of course," Laura admits.

Three days later, Laura was questioned again. "I know what's coming," she tells Maher. "Like I already know. They're gonna do something and you're not gonna like it."

Laura was arrested and later charged with "hindering apprehension" for her role in Colton's escape. Police didn't believe Laura's story that Colton had forced her to drive him to Mexico.

"I did not want to go to jail. I can't go to jail," Laura tells Maher. "That's just a whole new set of nightmares coming at me that I'm not ready to deal with."

Laura agrees to talk to police, but initially holds back. The interrogation lasts nine grueling hours.

In the end, Detective Mark Gilchrest finally gets Laura to give up the gruesome details. She admits that she saw the body in the bathtub, but claims it was Colton's idea to dismember it.

Watch an excerpt of Laura Hall's interrogation

"He said he was gonna cut up the body and get rid of it," she told the detective.

Asked if Colton had asked her to help him, Laura tells the detective, "No! He told me to get out of there."

"I think that people are going to look at this and they're going to see how articulate you are, and they're going to say, 'OK, either this girl is really stupid or she's a sociopath," says Maher. "With all due respect, which one is it?"

"Well it's neither," she replies. "I'm definitely not a sociopath."

But Laura does admit to a problem with men.

"I'm stupid with men. I'm absolutely stupid with them," she says. "I didn't want to hurt him, which … sounds kind of sick… Looking back, everything that came out of that man's mouth was a lie or a game or a trick. And he didn't care who got hurt in the process."

"I definitely feel like my life is closing in on me right now," Laura says of her situation. "I feel this huge weight of pressure - a dark cloud around me that is the police and the District Attorney's office that could snatch away what I have at any second. So like, I definitely feel shackled."

From September 2005, when she was arrested, until Colton Pitonyak's trial in January 2007, Laura Hall stood by Colton.

Prosecutor Bill Bishop believes the evidence against Colton was very strong.

"You'll hear that Ms. Cave died as a result of a gunshot through the arm and the torso of her body," Bishop tells the court. "You'll hear after her death she was dismembered. Her hands removed. Her head removed."

"We knew him to be the only person in her company that evening once they left Sixth Street, the location obviously of her body being in his apartment," Bishop tells "48 Hours." "He went to a hardware store and bought cleaning supplies such as ammonia and Febreze, masks, gloves and a hacksaw…. The clerk asked him what he needed a hacksaw for and he said he was frying a turkey and needed a hacksaw to cut it up because it was frozen."

When he took the stand, Colton said he couldn't remember what happened that night. He claimed he was strung out on drugs and alcohol.

Asked how he got back to his apartment, Colton said, "I assume Jennifer took me."

And he couldn't he explain the shooting. "I have no idea what happened that night."

But Colton's mental fog apparently began to lift a few hours after the shooting; coincidentally, right around the time Laura Hall showed up at his door.

Colton testifies, "I can't remember exactly what I told her, but I showed her Jennifer's body."

"And what did she say?" the attorney asks.

"She just said, 'What are we gonna do?'"

And for the first time, Colton started shifting the blame. Except for the murder itself, he blamed Laura for almost everything.

In court, Colton says he did not cut Jennifer's body with the knife." There's no way I would have done what was done."

"Of course he remembers all that - then incriminates me and nothing about his own actions," Laura comments sarcastically.

Laura says he's lying and that she had nothing to do with the dismemberment.

But the jury never heard Laura's side of the story. On the advice of her lawyer, she never took the stand at Colton's trial. It's something she regrets.

"I had no idea he was going to do what he did," she says.

Colton Pitonyak was found guilty and sentenced to 55 years in prison.

Then, it was Laura's turn.

"I am accused of some unspeakable things. I am facing 10 years in prison for mutilating a body. Colton did that. I want people to look at me for what I am. They have just created a fictional character and put my name on it. Everyone has pointed their finger at me," she says.