48 Hours Preview: In Too Deep

A University of Texas Student Tries to Stay Afloat Amid Accusations of her Involvement in a Gruesome Crime

Laura Hall was like any other college student. She was living in Austin, Texas, whre she attended the University of Texas, dating the guy of her dreams, business student Colton Pitonyak, and planning to go to law school.
But on the morning of Aug. 17, 2005, Hall entered into a nightmare when she found a young woman's dead body in the bathtub in Pitonyak's apartment. It was 21-year-old Jennifer Cave, a friend of Pitonyak's.

Within days of the murder, authorities nabbed Pitonyak and Hall in Mexico. But while Hall claimed that she went to Mexico against her will, police believed she was helping Pitonyak escape and charged her with hindering apprehension. Even worse, Cave's body had been severely mutilated, stabbed dozens of times and dismembered. At his trial, Pitonyak stunned everyone when he testified that it was, in fact, Hall who dismembered her.

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Maureen Maher's reporter's notebook

Hall's counsel denied her involvement, claiming any of her questionable behavior stemmed from her love and fear of Pitonyak, but the prosecution painted a picture of a jealous girlfriend who ruthlessly took control of a situation to protect her boyfriend.

The jury found her guilty of tampering with the body and hindering Colton'ss apprehension. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

But in February 2009, the unexpected happened.

Laura Hall was released from prison when a court ruled that her sentencing hearing was unfair. After serving just 17 months, Hall went home while prosecutors fought to put her back in prison. Her conviction still stands, but how much time she will serve has yet to be determined.


As she awaits a new sentencing hearing, Hall remains a convict... and a mystery. Was she an accomplice in the gruesome crime or just a lost soul who was in over her head?

Correspondent Maureen Maher updates the case on an all-new "48 Hours Mystery," Saturday, March 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.