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Cave's family reacts to Pitonyak verdict

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A jury decided on 55 years in prison for a former University of Texas student convicted of killing a woman whose mutilated body was found in his West Campus apartment.

Colton Pitonyak, 24, will be eligible for parole in 27 years, when he's in his 50s.

Jennifer Cave, 21, was found shot, stabbed and dismembered in Pitonyak's bathtub in August 2005.

During the sentencing testimony, Jennifer's mother Sharon Cave spoke about what life has been like since her daughter's death and her counseling with her pastor.

"He gave us a great analogy. When I came up her I was so worried. He said 'this is it kiddo. This is the final gift that you get to do for Jennifer. This is the last thing you get to give her,'" Sharon said.

Both of Colton's parents took the stand with words of apology and sorrow.

"Sharon, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for what your family is going through. I only met Jennifer once but she was lovely," Colton's mother Bridget Pitonyak said.

"Colton and his family will suffer for this tragedy for years to come. Unless you've experienced it you don't realize how something like this affects both families. It's truly a nightmare for everybody close to the two young people who are involved," his father Eddy Pitonyak said.

It was while his parents were on the stand Colton showed the first sign of true emotion during the trial.

"He's spent the last in anguish and pain in the loss of his friend. Undoubtedly, he'll spend the rest of his life with this pain. I beg you to be lenient. We love him so much and he's such a good man. I love you, Colton," Bridget said.

Family and friends of Jennifer Cave walked out the courtroom with a message.

"We want to thank the jury for their courage and what they did," Sharon Cave's boyfriend Jim Sedwick said.

Sedwick was the one who discovered Jennifer's body in 2005.

Family and friends of the Pitonyaks chose not to talk to the media afterwards, but his defense attorney, Sam Bassett, did. He asked for the jury to sentence Colton to 20 years.

"We're disappointed, but at the same time we respect the decision of the jury," Bassett said.

The brutal murder and its aftermath became a major event for Austin and the university. Court TV aired the trial live, and local media covered it extensively. The trial was watched closely by UT students.

"It's one thing to kill someone and then admit to it. It's another
thinking to kill someone and cover it up and lie, have your defense, lie. I think he should have been killed," freshman Dalton Edwards said.

"Honestly, I think justice was pretty much served," sophomore Brittanie Green said.

Even if justice has been served there are still many unanswered questions.

"The question will always be why? And we will always have a lot of questions and the only other person who can answer those are Jenn," Sharon said.

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