The prosecution’s strong circumstantial case in the slaying of a mother of four still lacks direct evidence that places either defendant at the crime scene or that they fired the fatal shot.
With only two or three more government witnesses remaining to testify Tuesday, prosecutors so far have weaved together:
• Security video of the shooting death
• Images from a mobile phone linked to accused killer Lorenzo Young
• Bullets and shell casings found at the bakery where Kelly Hunnewell was gunned down in the pre-dawn hours of July 1, 2013, to similar guns seen on a cell phone video six days before the homicide.
• Jailhouse confessions and incriminating statements
But as of close of testimony Monday at the Richland County courthouse, no one on the witness stand has said that the masked and gloved gunmen on security video are Young, now 20, and co-defendant Trenton Barnes, who turns 18 later this month. Police have not found the weapons used.
A third man that police say was the lookout, Troy Stevenson, said through his attorney Friday that he will not testify as he awaits his own trial. Stevenson is Barnes older half-brother. Evidence has offered conflicting descriptions of Stevenson as either trying to stop Barnes or helping out in the robbery.
Columbia police detective Matthew McCoy, prosecutors and others in the case have said Stevenson told them what happened that night – but that information has not been heard by the seven-woman, four-man jury.
A SLED firearms expert testified Monday that .40- and .45-caliber bullets, cartridges and shell casings found at the scene and at the house where Young lived – some of which are hollow-points – are rare.
Expert Suzanne Cromer said that in her 14-year career, she had examined bullets like those once or twice before this case. But one of Young’s lawyers, Jacqueline Bambach, pointed out there are 13 models of Glocks that fire one of the bullets tied to the scene and that many local retailers sell Glocks.
Barnes’ attorney, Mark Schnee, asked Cromer, “Is there any testimony that you’ve heard that will tell you who fired this gun?”
“No,” Cromer answered.
Cromer also said still photos of two guns made from a mobile phone video on June 25, 2013, “appear” to look like a Glock, the gun police say was used to kill Hunnewell, 33. Police extracted the photos from video taken with a mobile phone investigators said Young used. The phone belonged to the mother of Young’s child, Rolanda Coleman.
Trial judge Robert Hood would not allow the entire video into evidence because the prosecution has no witness to the making of it, and allowing the jury to see the whole video without out corroboration would be unfairly prejudicial.
Hunnewell died of a gunshot that tore through her throat, causing so much damage that paramedics could not have saved her, a pathologist said Monday. The gun was fired within 18 inches to two feet from Hunnewell.
Every breath Hunnewell took drew blood into her lungs, doctor Amy Durso testified of her autopsy findings.
“It was like she was drowning in her own blood,” Durso said. “There is very little they could of done.”
Much of the day was consumed with legal tussles over statements made by defense attorney in opening arguments, the admissibility of the cell phone video, any references to the defendants’ gang connections, the use of unnamed confidential informants as well as disputes about the roles the defendants’ mothers have played in the case.
McCoy, the lead detective in the case, testified that one of the intruders who confronted Hunnewell while she made bagels at the bakery where she worked fired five times while the second gunman fired twice. A third man stood at the open bakery door as a lookout, McCoy said.
The jury was shown the security video that captured the crime but does not include sound.
Jurors watched intently as Hunnewell resisted, but they showed no emotion as they saw her get shot. The video board was positioned so that neither the audience nor the media could clearly see the events.
McCoy walked the jury through the video and later testified that a man who knows Young, Donald Moore, picked Young out of a line up. Moore provided other information that led police to Young, the detective said.
McCoy said Moore “feared retaliation” for his cooperation – a phrase that prompted Young’s lawyers to call for a mistrial because it implied gang affiliation by Young.
Hood refused to grant a mistrial.
McCoy said police never found the weapons, but a search of Young’s mother’s house turned up gloves and ammunition consistent with shell casings found at the bakery, the detective said.
When he interviewed Barnes, then 16, Barnes was nervous and scared, McCoy said. “Tears were coming down his face.”
Schnee, Barnes’ lawyer, repeatedly has questioned McCoy’s conduct in the case. But Hood has blocked almost all of those questions from being heard by jurors.
Young’s alleged statements at the county jail, in which he acknowledged shooting Hunnewell, took place on separate occasions.
One of the three inmates who testified Friday has since pleaded guilty to armed robberies and has been transferred to state prison.
“He (Young) said the police don’t have anything because we had on masks and gloves,’” accused killer Michael “Big Unk” Peterson testified. “He said, ‘They can’t prove nothing.’”
Another prisoner, Michael Schaefer, testified he had been with Young at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center last New Year’s Eve. Schaefer said he “was feeling kind of remorseful, and I said, ‘I shouldn’t have robbed that bank.’”
Young then said, “I shouldn’t have shot that (female expletive),” Schaefer said.