Friday, June 27, 2008

A Disturbing Descent

by Kathryn Casey

Does this guy look like a near-genius to you? Would you peg him for a former altar boy who grew up in a well-t0-do family with every advantage, including private schools? One who'd get a $150,000 college scholarship? Well, that's who Colton Pitonyak used to be. By the time this photo was taken, he was a drug-dealing thug charged with committing the most bizarre murder in the University of Texas history.

The victim, Jennifer Cave, a beautiful, bright young woman from Corpus Christi, had dabbled in drugs over the years, at times more than a little. But she'd never turned to the dark side, like Pitonyak. Her misfortune? She caught Pitonyak's eye.

In August 2005, the scene inside Pitonyak's near-campus apartment looked like the set of a grisly horror movie. Meanwhile, Pitonyak was nowhere to be found. He'd disappeared along with his would-be girlfriend, Laura Hall, in her green Cadillac. Why?

"That's just the way I roll," Hall told a friend.

I spent a year working on A DESCENT INTO HELL: THE TRUE STORY OF AN ALTAR BOY, A CHEERLEADER, AND A TWISTED TEXAS MURDER. It is, without a doubt, the most troubling case I've ever tackled. The book hit shelves last Tuesday, the same day of the release of my first novel, SINGULARITY.

Two-time Edgar winner and Texas true crime patriarch Carlton Stowers says: “Never has a book been more aptly titled. Masterfully, Casey weaves a dark and disturbing look into a world of advantaged youths who throw it all away in favor of drugs, booze and bad company, leaving a sordid trail of destruction – and death – in the wake. A troubling tale, indeed. . . .”


Christy/OR said...

Hi KC! This guy scares me to death. I'm headed out tomorrow to grab both your new books. Congratulations!

TxMichelle said...

I followed this in the papers. A very bizarre case indeed! I look forward to reading this!

Kathryn Casey said...

Thanks, Ladies. Very much. Looks like none of us are getting a lot of sleep. Sweet dreams.

Paralegal Sandy said...

I had been looking for my next read. Thanks for helping me with my decision Kathryn. Can't wait to get started on it.

Levi said...

Kathryn, you are a book writing machine! LOL :)

Kathryn Casey said...

Thanks, Sandy, and you, too, Levi! I try hard. I'm currently finishing up the second Sarah Armstrong mystery novel and getting back to the true crime book on the David Temple case. Busy, busy times!

But then, aren't we all busy these days? The world just seems to spin faster all the time. Maybe that's why the Polar ice cap is melting?

Diane Fanning said...

You go, girl! Can't wait to read both of your new books.

egregious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
egregious said...

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be construed as fact, but rather, mere parody.

Horrific story, indeed. The truth is that the shooting was accidental.

In Texas, you may infer intent from the discharge of a firearm unless you are vice president Dick Cheney.

...Furthermore, Laura hall had nothing to do with the murder or dismemberment of Jennifer Cave. The case for that was purely circumstantial and it only came when the walls were crashing in on the prosecution for the crime of felony hindering apprehension.

The prosecution felt the means were justified in prosecuting her for a crime that she did not commit: "Tampering with evidence".

Under the law, Laura only committed a misdemeanor. You may not like it, but that is the truth.

...and that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Get more of the truth here.

I spoke with Kathryn Casey and Jenna Jackson about the truth, but as usual, the truth is not nearly as sensational as fiction. Jenna Jackson and crew left me on the cutting room floor. I haven't read the book, but I imagine that Casey has given my version the same treatment. the way: I was the only witness against Laura Hall in the punishment phase of her trial. I was duped by the prosecution and it was the mistake of a lifetime.

Currently, the case is before Texas' 3rd Court of Appeals. After twice requesting to extend the deadline, the State has failed to timely file a brief. I believe that this is due in part due to the embarrassment of the State in wrongfully prosecuting Laura.

I certainly hope so. This case also marks the end of the same regime led by Ronnie Earle that previously attempted to kill an 11 year girl. See more here and here.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle stated as follows:

"the law doesn't teach you how to act. ... What I have come to call the 'ethics infrastructure' teaches you how to act. And that is in that work of mommas and daddies and aunts and uncles and teachers and preachers and neighbors and cousins and friends – that's where you learn how to act, not from the law."

The reasoning of the District Attorney is disturbing, indeed. This is precisely the rationale used by non-violent abortion protesters to make the quantum leap from non-violent protests to murder. Ronnie Earle is a psychopath to say the very least.

See: Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961):

"Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."

As Mr. Justice Brandeis, dissenting, said in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928):

"Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. . . . If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy."

"The ignoble shortcut to conviction left open to the State tends to destroy the entire system of constitutional restraints on which the liberties of the people rest."

"There is no war between the Constitution and common sense."

Thank you for reading...

Anonymous said...

For everyone who doesn't know, the above post is by Doug Conley, a publicy seeker who has grabbed onto this case. He hides behind the pen name Egregious.

First: It's interesting that you'd feel justified in commenting without even reading Kathryn's book. This is, of course, consistent with your take on the case: to ignore the facts and spout hyperbole.

I doubt that Jennifer's family believes her murder is a fitting subject for parody. You're right, nothing in your post should be construed as fact.

Kathryn Casey said...


I received your forwarded email in which you said that I would probably erase your comment. I won't.

That said, from the beginning, you've consistently ignored the evidence. The above email is simply more of the same.

If you want to learn the truth about this case, read the book.

Mary said...

Stunning book, Kathy, and masterfully written. I will NEVER ask, "Which case was that book about again?"

Kathryn Casey said...

Thanks, Mary. Glad you enjoyed the book. It is a very troubling case.