The third suspect in the 2013 killing of a 33-year-old mother of four during a robbery at a Columbia bakery agreed to a plea deal in court Tuesday, then changed his mind when he was in front of the judge.
The deal, negotiated by prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case of Troy Stevenson, 20, would have reduced the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter for his involvement in the shooting death of Kelly Hunnewell. The offer included a 20-year prison sentence with no chance at parole.
After both prosecutors and Stevenson's defense attorney, Aimee Zmorczek, agreed that he would take the deal, Stevenson ended up not accepting the deal in front of Circuit Judge Robert Hood.
During the trial’s opening statements, assistant solicitor Dolly Garfield said that because of the state’s accomplice liability laws, otherwise known as "the hand of one is the hand of all" doctrine, Stevenson was just as guilty in the shooting death of Hunnewell as his co-defendants, who were each found guilty of murder in December.
However, Zmorczek argued that instead of Stevenson acting as an alleged lookout, Stevenson was told by his mother to go and retrieve his younger half-brother, Trenton Barnes, from the bakery. Zmorczek also said that during earlier family engagements, it was known that Barnes and a friend, Lorenzo Young, were going to the bar to rob it.
Stevenson’s trial is continuing on the charge of murder, which could get him decades in prison, along with second-degree burglary, attempted armed robbery and kidnapping.
Barnes was sentenced to 50 years, and Young, a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Around 3:45 a.m. July 1, 2013, Stevenson, then 18, is accused of being the “lookout” for Barnes, then 16, and Young, then 18, as they entered the small Carolina Cafe bakery at 13 Tommy Circle, off Beltline Boulevard near Covenant Road, to try to rob the shop.
Hunnewell, who was alone at the time, tried to defend herself and was shot multiple times, police said.
The suspects were arrested about a week after the killing, and it was discovered that Young and Stevenson were out on bond awaiting trial on other charges at the time – prompting public outrage and calls for bond reform.
Prosecutors would later argue during trial that Barnes was the triggerman.
Hunnewell had four children, who were ages 13, 9, 8 and 6 at the time of her death.
Check back later with thestate.com for updates.