A stroke that slays us all

When tragedy occurs at UT, each drop of bloodshed plinks and ripples throughout the campus.

The murder of Jennifer Cave in 2005 was shocking then, even when we didn’t know the full and gruesome story. Youth is on our side at this time in our lives and we are invincible, it seems, so when we heard about her West Campus murder the gossip and confusion spread like wildfire- she was a slut, she was a cokehead, she was a great girl but HE was really messed up, why else would he run off to Mexico OF COURSE he did it, etc. People who knew the suspect, Colton Pitonyak, wrote messages of disbelief and sorrow on his Facebook wall. He was a suspected murderer….but he was still someone they’d shared their life with. He was still their friend.

After the murder Pitonyak and his (soon-to-be-tried) accomplice Laura Hall ran for the border in Hall’s Cadillac. They got into Mexico and tried to sell the car but didn’t have the title, and were strongly averse to going back to Texas for it, according to testimony from the manager of the inn where they stayed. The two were apprehended in Eagle Pass, Texas, as a result of collaboration between US and Mexican law enforcement.

The ensuing trial for Pitonyak has been covered meticulously by the Texan, and today they found him guilty of Cave’s murder, sentencing him to 55 years in prison. It’s not life, but for a twentysomething, it might as well be. The Cave family was there to watch the trial- the end of a 17-month wait for some sort of retribution for what they’d lost, as if anything could be enough.

I’m not convinced he did it, honestly. I’m not. There’s too much unexplained- why did Hall supposedly mutilate the body but not shoot the bullet that killed Cave? Why are there both prints on the gun? The more I read about it the more questions I have. Hall’s trial will yield more answers, and more questions, but the only one certain to be on everyone’s minds will be How could this happen here?

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