A woman who heard Kelly Hunnewell’s dying words told a Richland County jury Wednesday, “I can’t describe the terror that was in her voice.”
Theresa Baskin said in opening testimony that she could hear the mother of four screaming, “No, no, no.” Baskins’ home on Tommy Circle is 125 feet from the open door of the bakery where Hunnewell was making bagels and cookies near Covenant Road for her employer when three men burst in.
Prosecutor Dolly Justice Garfield told the eight-woman, four-man jury that Hunnewell also said, “Please have mercy.”
Hunnewell was found minutes after Baskin speed-dialed 911 in the pre-dawn hours of July 1, 2013. Hunnewell was lying on the bakery floor near a sink. She had been shot and bled to death, according to testimony in the trial of Lorenzo Young, now 20, and Trenton Barnes, who turns 18 later this month. A third defendant, Troy Stevenson, is expected to testify for the government against Young and Barnes. Barnes is Stevenson’s younger brother, lawyers in the case said.
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Young and Barnes are each charged with murder, kidnapping, second-degree burglary and attempted armed robbery. Prosecutors say the men had planned to rob a nearby Ale House, but discovered it was closed that rainy summer night.
A Columbia police crime scene specialist testified there were signs of a struggle and that Hunnewell might have struck one of intruders with a long, silver metal cooking spoon on which police found DNA evidence.
But defense lawyers argued there are no fingerprints. They challenged a search warrant and the physical evidence. They dismissed a security video of the attack as inconclusive.
“They have no forensics,” said Barnes’ attorney, Mark Schnee. “They have a blurry video.”
Jacqueline Bambach, one of Young’s three public defenders, said police and prosecutors were under public pressure to solve the homicide.
She called it a, “rushed investigation that was based on emotion that led to the arrest of an innocent teenager. You won’t see anything directly connecting Lorenzo Young to this case,” Bambach told jurors in opening remarks at the Richland County courthouse.
During the first day of testimony, Young often turned toward a group of young men his age in the audience and exchanged smiles. Barnes, however, kept a serious expression during testimony.
Crime scene specialist George Wise testified that there were 11 bullet holes in the small bakery and shell casings came from .40-caliber and .45-caliber firearms.
Earlier Wednesday, Schnee openly questioned the tactics of one of the lead detectives, Matthew McCoy. Schnee characterized McCoy telling Young during an interrogation that he faced the prospect of “a needle in his arm” as a threat to kill a criminal suspect.
The lawyer said a cornerstone to his defense of Barnes is to challenge the credibility of police and prosecution witnesses. Young’s lawyers did not join Schnee’s contention about the detective.
“How is anything he just said admissible?” Garfield asked Judge Robert Hood. “I don’t even know how to address that.” She and fellow prosecutor Luck Campbell asked for a mistrial – a rare move normally employed by defense lawyers.
Schnee’s depiction of police conduct ignited an hours-long debate about courtroom procedures – most of it in Hood’s chamber.
About 2 p.m., they reconvened in the courtroom and the prosecution withdrew its mistrial request as Hood admonished Schnee.
Even in being scolded, Schnee and the judge tangled again, this time in open court. Barnes’ lawyer said Hood had threatened him with contempt of court and asked for Hood to be replaced by another judge.
Hood told Schnee, a private attorney, that his depiction of what was said in chambers was “pretty close to completely inaccurate.” The judge rejected a renewed mistrial request, a new judge, and another try at separating the trials of Young and Barnes. “I have no prejudice and no bias against you or your client,” Hood said.
Schnee has employed novel approaches in court before. In October 2013, he argued in a Richland County case that his client, accused in a home invasion, should be granted immunity from prosecution under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
The client, Greg Isaac, took the stand and told the jury he felt threatened by the resident, whose door was kicked in and was shot in front of his son. Isaac was convicted.
The thought of a mistrial shook Hunnewell’s mother, Nancy Hunnewell. “I hope we don’t get a mistrial,” she said in an interview while the discussions were under way. “It will kill me.”
Nancy Hunnewell said she’s struggling to raise her daughter’s two oldest children who are now 14 and 10. The younger children are living with their biological father, Adam Hunnewell, in Maine, Nancy Hunnewell said.
The three share the same last name because Adam Hunnewell is her step-son, though he is not biologically related to Kelly Hunnewell.
Kelly and Adam Hunnewell had been separated about four years, but she had not changed the beneficiary on her life insurance policy, Nancy Hunnewell said. She had to go to court to fight for a share of the policy and was awarded money for the two grandchildren she’s raising in Elloree, Nancy Hunnewell said.