April 17, 2017.
From Richland County Robert E. Hood, Circuit Court Judge
Appellate Defender David Alexander, of Columbia, for
Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Deputy Attorney General
Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Attorney General Susannah Rawl
Cole, and Solicitor Daniel Edward Johnson, all of Columbia,
joint trial, Lorenzo Young and Trenton Barnes were convicted
by a jury of murder, kidnapping, second-degree burglary, and
attempted armed robbery. On appeal, Young argues the trial
court abused its discretion in (1) admitting a letter written
by Barnes as a statement against penal interest, Rule
804(b)(3), SCRE; and (2) failing to grant his motion for
mistrial. We find the letter was admitted in error, and the
error was not cured by the trial court's instruction to
disregard the letter. We conclude, however, that the error in
admitting the letter and any error in failing to grant a
mistrial was harmless. We therefore affirm Young's
convictions and sentences.
Hunnewell worked for Carolina Cafe in Columbia as a baker and
cook. Hunnewell's shift started early in the morning, and
she baked at a remote kitchen located at 93 Tommy Circle. The
kitchen was next door to the Ale House Lounge, and both
buildings were equipped with video surveillance.
to the surveillance video and other evidence, Hunnewell
arrived at the kitchen at 3:00 a.m. on July 1, 2013. It was
raining hard outside, and she left the door to the kitchen
propped open. At 3:40 a.m., while Hunnewell was stirring
potatoes, a man wearing a red-hooded sweatshirt entered the
open door, followed closely by a man wearing a gray-hooded
sweatshirt. Both men had their sweatshirts pulled tightly
around their faces. Each held a gun in what appeared to be a
gloved hand. At the same time, a third man, wearing a
dark-hooded sweatshirt, appeared at the door. The man in the
red sweatshirt immediately ran up behind Hunnewell and placed
his gun to her head. The man in the gray sweatshirt ran to
the other side of Hunnewell, blocking any means for her
escape. A brief struggle ensued, and Hunnewell attempted to
fend off her assailants with a large spoon. During the
struggle, both men fired their weapons. Hunnewell fell to the
ground, and at 3:41 a.m., the men fled.
neighbor who heard the gunshots and Hunnewell's screams
called the police. Officer Jonathan Brayboy received the call
from dispatch at 3:44 a.m., and arrived promptly to find
Hunnewell lying on the floor. It was later determined she had
died almost instantly from a .40 caliber gunshot wound to her
chest and neck. Police officers discovered six bullet casings
at the scene-four .45 caliber GAP casings and two Smith &
Wesson .40 caliber casings. Police swabbed for DNA, canvassed
the neighborhood for information related to the crime, and
released portions of the surveillance video to the media.
began to trickle in. Mary Brown, a resident of the
neighborhood where Barnes and Young lived, called the police
tip line after seeing the surveillance video on the news.
Brown testified that on the afternoon before the shooting,
she was at a cookout also attended by two young men: one was
wearing a gray-hooded jacket or hoodie, the other a red one.
At the time, she did not know who the men were but later
identified them to police.
Moore, who knew Young "from the street" and
described Barnes and Troy Stevenson, Barnes' brother, as
his friends, approached the police on July 2nd. In his
statement, Moore informed the police that a few days before
the shooting, he was present when Troy and Young were
discussing a plan to rob the Ale House. He stated Young had
acquired a Glock 40 and was showing it on the street. Moore
stated Young wore the red-hooded sweatshirt seen on the
video, and Troy often wore the gray one. Finally, Moore
stated that after viewing the surveillance video, he believed
Troy and Young were the shooters. At trial, Moore recanted
his entire statement, testifying he had lied to police.
5th, Investigators executed a search warrant at Young's
house and recovered five gloves from Young's closet that
later tested positive for gunshot residue, two unfired .45
caliber GAP rounds of ammunition, an empty Glock magazine,
and a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson unfired round. Police
searched Barnes' home pursuant to warrant the same day,
recovering a "soaking wet" dark hoodie. Barnes, who
was sixteen at the time, was arrested at his home, which was
within walking distance of the scene. Young was arrested
later that evening, found hiding in an upstairs closet of his
Barnes, Barnes' mother, testified she was home the night
of the shooting and her two sons, Barnes and Troy, were there
as well. According to Latoya, around 11:00 p.m. or midnight,
Barnes and Young left the house together, while Troy had
departed earlier with another group of friends. Latoya
testified Young was wearing a red sweatshirt, Troy was
wearing a dark sweatshirt, and Barnes was wearing a gray one.
Troy eventually returned home with his friends, but Barnes
and Young had still not returned at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. Around
that time, Latoya stated Young called and asked to speak with
one of Troy's friends who was present at Latoya's
home; she gave the friend the phone. Later, Latoya received
another call from Young, asking for that same friend. Latoya
testified she asked Young, "Where is [Barnes]?"
Young replied Barnes was with him "right down the
street." Latoya asked Young to tell Barnes to come home.
When Barnes did not immediately return home, Latoya told Troy
to go "get your brother." Troy then left the house
and Latoya went to bed. Latoya testified that when she awoke
at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, Barnes, Young, and Troy were
all at her home. Shortly thereafter, someone came by and
picked Young up.
trial, the State questioned Latoya about a statement she gave
to police after her sons were arrested, identifying Barnes as
the person in the video wearing the gray hoodie. Latoya
denied identifying Barnes. Later in the trial, the State
played a portion of Latoya's recorded statement to police
in which she identified Barnes as the person in the video,
stating, "Yeah, I mean it was [Barnes] with the gray on.
Like I said, I know my kids' build. I know them from
their fingers to their toes. I know my kids."
Latoya testified she received a letter from Barnes dated
March 31, 2014, while he was in the detention center. Over
Young's objection that it was inadmissible hearsay and
violated Bruton v. United States,  the letter was
entered into evidence. In the letter, Barnes admitted his
role in the shooting and implicated Young. A handwriting
expert testified the letter was written by Barnes. After an
overnight recess, the trial court instructed the jury the
letter could not be used as evidence against Young. Young
objected to the instruction and moved for a mistrial.
girlfriend, Rolanda Coleman, testified that at the time of
the shooting, she and Young were living together with their
infant daughter. Speaking with police a week after the
shooting, Coleman stated Young had acquired a gun a month or
two before the incident. Coleman testified that on the night
of the shooting, she was at her home and Young was at
Latoya's home. According to her statement, Coleman
received a call from Young the next morning asking for a ride
home. Young's mother picked him up from Barnes' home,
and when he returned, Young had a gun that he wrapped in a
shirt and placed in the baby's crib. Young described
the gun to Coleman as a "45." Coleman and Young
then went to work; when they returned home, the gun was gone.
After Young and his mother saw the surveillance video of the
shooting on the news, Coleman overheard Young's mother
tell him to get rid of the gun. Coleman also testified Barnes
often wore a gray-hooded sweatshirt, and she had previously
seen Barnes with a gun. Upon seeing the video of the
shooting, Coleman identified Barnes as the person wearing the
gray sweatshirt. She testified she could not identify the
person in the red sweatshirt. Coleman admitted that at the
time of trial, she had pending charges for burglary in the
first degree but claimed the State had made no promises to
her in exchange for her testimony.
from Young's cell phone was also admitted. The call log
corroborated Latoya's and Coleman's testimony
regarding calls made by Young on the evening and morning of
the shooting. The phone also contained several cached
photographs from internet searches beginning the day of the
shooting, including portions of the video and still pictures
of the man in the red sweatshirt from the police media
release. Investigators also discovered a video on the cell
phone recorded five days before the shooting. This video,
which was published for the jury, depicted Young in a gray
sweatshirt displaying a gun-which he called a "Glock
4-5"-for the camera.
the State presented the testimony of three jailhouse
informants. Alfred Dominique Wright testified Young
approached him in the jail's law library asking for help
with his case. According to Wright, Young told him what
happened the night of the shooting, implicating both himself
and two brothers nicknamed "Trigg and Trap." Wright
testified he later learned Trigg and Trap were Troy and
Peterson testified that while he and Young were housed in the
same unit of the detention center, Young approached him to
talk about his case. Peterson testified Young described the
shooting incident, implicating himself and another person
Young called "his little homey." Peterson further
testified that later, while in the shower, he overheard a
nervous-sounding Young "hollering back and forth"
with Troy about evidence collected in the case, explaining
that all the police had recovered were shell casings.
Schaefer testified he knew Young because they were housed in
the same dorm in jail. Schaefer testified Young told him
about the shooting, implicating himself and "Trap and
Trigg." According to Schaefer, on one occasion, Young
told him, "I shouldn't have shot that bitch."
the State presented testimony from a firearms and tool marks
examination expert and a DNA expert. The firearms expert
testified GAP .45 bullets, like the ones found at the scene
and at Young's house, were typically used by law
enforcement rather than civilians and could only be fired by
a Glock-manufactured gun. The DNA expert testified she could
not exclude either Barnes or Young from a DNA sample
recovered from the spoon Hunnewell used to hit her
assailants. However, on cross-examination, the expert
admitted one-third of the world population could not be
excluded as contributors. Neither the guns nor the red and
gray hoodies were ever found.
Barnes nor Young presented evidence, and instead challenged
the State's proof. At the close of trial, the trial court
charged "hand of one, hand of all" liability in
addition to murder, kidnapping, second-degree burglary, and
attempted armed robbery. After deliberating around three
hours, the jury found Barnes and Young guilty of all counts.
Young received consecutive sentences of life without the
possibility of parole for murder, twenty years for attempted
armed robbery, and fifteen years for burglary. Barnes ...