Threats, anger evident in Hall’s calls
Jury hears accomplice in case berating slain woman’s mother, court, own family
A disturbing portrait of Laura Ashley Hall was revealed in court Thursday as prosecutors played jail phone call recordings of Hall threatening the mother of murder victim Jennifer Cave, talking about tracking down jurors from her case and repeatedly disparaging her parents.
“She’s going down,” Hall said in an August 2008 call, apparently referring to Cave’s mother, Sharon Sedwick. “I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but she’s going down.”
The calls were played during the third day of the 26-year-old Hall’s sentencing retrial. She stands convicted of tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension in Cave’s murder.
A Travis County jury is expected to hear closing argu-
Continued from A1 ments this morning before deciding her punishment. She faces up to 10 years in prison on the tampering charge and up to a year for hindering apprehension.
Hall was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to five years. An appeals court upheld the convictions but overturned the sentence.
Former University of Texas student Colton Pitonyak is serving 55 years in prison for Cave’s murder. Prosecutors contend that Hall, also an exUT student, helped Pitonyak in dismembering Cave’s body in an aborted cover-up and driving him to Mexico.
Hall has maintained her innocence to police and in media interviews, saying that she was in Pitonyak’s apartment after the killing but did not participate in the mutilation and did not call police because she was afraid of him.
She continued to assert her innocence throughout the approximately 1½ hours of phone calls played for jurors Thursday, most of them with family members.
In one call from January 2008, Hall spoke to her grandmother about a recently aired “48 Hours Mystery” TV show that focused on her case. She asked her grandmother how she sounded and said: “I thought that dead girl’s mom sounded like a real moron.”
“Yeah, oh yeah,” her grandmother, Ardith Mosley, responded.
In a call between Hall and her parents later that month, Hall asked her mother, Carol Hall, what the people at her work thought of the show.
Carol Hall told her daughter that they thought the worst thing about her is that she got a “Colton” tattoo shortly after the murder.
Hall’s mother said people in jail who said bad things about Sharon Sedwick, right, talked to jurors Thursday about her slain daughter, Jennifer Cave, the horror of Cave’s dismemberment and the unease about not seeing her body before burial. the television show “hated that you were on TV and they weren’t.”
Throughout the calls, Hall sounded increasingly desperate to get out of jail, threatening violence and suicide if her parents would not pay a bondsman about $16,000.
She told her grandmother at one point: “I’ve lost everything. I really have nothing to live for.”
She told her mother “I will kill you” when she refused to pay for Hall’s release.
Hall told her father in February 2008 she didn’t want to go prison: “I’ll get an assault charge if they try to take me and possibly even a murder charge.”
Later, Hall said: “I don’t have to act crazy. They know I’m crazy. I’m beyond crazy. I almost attacked somebody yesterday.”
In another call, she told Mosley: “Then we have garbage like Sharon (Sedwick) be heroes. God. God help us,” Hall told her grandmother of the murder victim’s mother.
“Yes, that’s just the truth,” Hall’s grandmother said.
Hall then said, “That trash gets pity. God help us.”
In March 2009, Hall spoke to Nesta Gerberding, someone prosecutors suggested she had met in jail. She told Gerberding: “I’m going to find out who’s on my jury, and I’m going to say really nasty stuff to them. ... You ruined my life you (expletive.)”
Sedwick sat quietly next to her husband, Jim, in the front row of court while the calls were played.
She testified later in the day that she is afraid of Hall and is more at ease with her in jail. Since her 2005 arrest, Hall has been in jail for about two years and free on bail for about three years.
Sedwick noted that Hall “has never once referred to Jennifer by her name” and told the jury a bit about her daughter.
Cave graduated from high school in Corpus Christi and had just gotten a job at a law firm when she was killed. She recalled her daughter’s deep blue eyes.
“I seeded her grave with bluebonnets because of the blue,” she said.
Sedwick also shared the horror of having her daughter dismembered and her unease that she never got to see her daughter before she was buried.
“Everytime I visit her grave I say, ‘I hope her hands made it. Did she have earrings on? Were her toes painted?’”
Hall had no discernible reaction when Cave spoke.
She began to sob loudly as her father testified later in the day as a defense witness that he would help make sure that she was successful if given probation. Loren Hall said his daughter suffers from bipolar disorder.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Allison Wetzel opened her questioning by asking him: “Did her bipolar disorder cause her to cut Jennifer Cave’s head off ?”
Laura Hall ‘She’s going down,’ Hall said about victim’s mother in phone call.