Why was a loving mum gunned down in cold blood?
At 3.34am on a rainy summer night in July 2013, gunshots and a woman’s screams rang out from a bakery in Columbia, South Carolina. Baker Kelly Hunnewell, 33, had been shot dead. When teenage robbers were arrested, the community reeled at the utter senselessness of her murder…
Kelly Hunnewell was a single mum of four, who worked the early shift at a bakery so she could spend days with her kids.
She’d returned to her native South Carolina in late 2010, after splitting from her husband, rented a little house and worked hard to provide for her kids, 13, 9, 8 and 6.
Her children adored her, as did all the kids in the neighbourhood – she’d hand out fresh-baked cookies!
On 1 July 2013, Kelly’s day began early, when she’d make her way to the bakery on Tommy Circle for her 3am shift.
Alone in the bakery, Kelly prepped food for the cafe’s bustling lunch crowd and baked.
Then she’d be home by 11.15am, pack a picnic, take the kids swimming.
The bakery owner described her as ‘kind, happy, always a positive, and a loving mother’.
By contrast, Lorenzo Young, 18, was already a career criminal. That summer, he was out of jail on bond, on charges of violence.
Trenton Barnes, 16, had a lengthy record, too, and was on ‘intensive supervision’, after police had found him – just months before – with a loaded gun, the serial number scratched off.
Both teenagers were suspected gang members.
That July day, Young and Barnes pushed their way through the propped-open door of the bakery. A third youth, 18, allegedly acted as a lookout.
A security video camera captured the youths entering the bakery, overpowering Kelly and shooting her multiple times.
Young and Barnes fled empty handed after discovering no money was held at the bakery.
Police soon identified the three suspects after the teens returned to their neighbourhood, boasting about the crime.
Within a week, Young, Barnes and the third suspect were arrested and charged with, among other crimes, murder.
Kelly’s distraught mother Nancy said, ‘Who would want to hurt her? It was so senseless. If those guys were in jail like they were supposed to have been, it wouldn’t have happened.’
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin agreed, ‘Young is a career criminal. He never should have been on the street.’
The murder of the hard-working, innocent mother sparked harsh criticism of the bail bond system.
Many believed repeat offenders and suspects of violent crimes should not be allowed out on bond while awaiting trial.
A rally was held demanding a reform of the criminal justice system.
In November 2014, Lorenzo Young and Trenton Barnes went on trial for charges including murder. Both pleaded not guilty.
The third defendant, the alleged lookout, would be tried separately.
The court heard the teens had planned to rob a nearby nightclub, but it was closed. So they turned to the bakery.
They heard how Kelly had begged for mercy as the robbers burst in.
A neighbour heard Kelly scream, ‘No, no, no!’ before gunshots rang out.
‘I can’t describe the terror that was in her voice,’ she said.
Then Kelly was shot from no more than 2ft away. The fatal gunshot tore through her throat, and she bled to death.
She was found minutes later, after the neighbour called police. But the pathologist said the bullet did so much damage, paramedics would’ve been unable to save her. A crime-scene specialist said 11 bullet holes peppered the bakery.
Shocked jurors saw CCTV footage of Kelly being killed. It showed a person in dark clothing with a masked face, standing in the doorway, as well as other frames of two individuals shooting Kelly.
The jury took just two hours to find Young and Barnes guilty of all charges.
Kelly’s family said they didn’t want the death penalty – they wanted her killers to rot in jail.
Their wish was granted. Barnes was jailed for 50 years, while Young was jailed for life, with no possibility of parole.
Lorenzo Young and Trenton Barnes are both appealing their conviction and sentence.