The jury has sentenced Laura Hall to a total of 11 years behind bars and a fine of $14,000 for her role in the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave.
A new nine man and three woman jury went into the retrial deliberations around 11:00 a.m. on Friday following four days of testimony. Just before 4:30 p.m. it handed down sentences in both charges. A prior jury convicted her of hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence. Hall was sentenced to one year in the county jail and a $4,000 fine for hindering apprehension. The jury also sentenced her to 10 years in a state prison and a $10,000 fine for being found guilty of tampering with physical evidence.
During closing arguments on Friday the prosecution said, “We are asking for 10 years because that's all we can ask for. Make no mistake, we want it all. If you give us everything that we want, two things are going to always remain true: she's going to get out. She is going to get out, and images that Mr. and Mrs. Sedwick have of their child will always be there.”
Hall maintained a straight face during both the closing arguments and the reading of her sentence. Her family sat behind her listening to the verdict. Cave's family sat behind the prosecutors.
In Hall’s original sentencing trial, the jury took two days in deliberation before agreeing on a sentence.
Since Hall has no previous felony convictions, her lawyer asked for a sentence involving community supervision, which is also known as probation. She has already served 17 months of her original sentence. He urged jurors to review the facts in the trial rather than just the emotion.
“I cannot imagine what it's like to lose a child to murder,” said Hall’s attorney, Joe James Sawyer. “If what they felt and what they saw is to be the basis to what we punish, then 10 years is inadequate. One hundred years is inadequate. Or, do we return to that first batch of evidence and ask, 'What happened?' What is it that we are going to punish? Are we led by reason or not?”
Judge Wilford Flowers told jurors it is possible any prison time could be later reduced with good conduct, up to one-fourth of the time imposed. Hall still maintains her innocence in the mutilation of Cave's body.
Colton Pitonyak is serving 55 years for the shooting and killing Cave at his West Campus apartment in August 2005. Prosecutors say that Hall helped Pitonyak dismember Cave's body and then drove him to Mexico. Pitonyak is appealing his case, claiming that Hall actually killed Cave.