CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Nearly one year after a college baseball player was shot and killed while trying to buy an iPhone in west Charlotte, two teens charged in his death appeared in court on Thursday.
According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, 21-year-old Zachary Finch was shot and killed the afternoon of June 18 in the 2300 block of Farmer Street. Finch was reportedly in the area to buy an upgraded iPhone and used an app where he thought he was meeting a legitimate seller. But something went wrong, and police believe there was a robbery and Finch was shot, police say.
Demonte McCain, 17, and Jahzion Wilson, 15, were both charged with murder. Wilson and another 15-year-old were arrested in July and McCain was arrested in October.
Wilson's attorney asked the judge to continue the arraignment to another date.
"My understanding is he's taking his GED exams at the detention center and he wants additional time to consider the plea offer," Wilson's attorney said.
When Judge Robert Bell denied the motion, Wilson's attorney entered a not guilty plea in court on Thursday. His future court date has not been set.
McCain is expected to appear back in court in two weeks. McCain's attorney told the judge he needed more time.
"My client is a young man and I want to make sure that he understands completely the charges against him," McCain's attorney said. "And the voluminous discovery that has been provided and some new matter that counsel has learned today."
Tara Finch, Zachary's mother, was upset following the court hearing and was hoping the teens would plead guilty instead of asking for more time.
"I'm just tired. It's hard to keep coming back and coming back and seeing them and having this hanging over your head. There's no healing. There's no healing from this," Tara Finch said. These two defendants have no idea – not only have they destroyed Zachary's life and our family but the thousands of other people the impact he's made across several states and now they want more time."
Tara added, "at some point don't you have to be accountable for your actions. Don't you stand up and be responsible for what you did? If you were big enough to make that decision and do the crime then be man enough to stand up and be accountable for what you did instead of putting families through this because this is awful."
The Finch family has made several trips to court, keeping an eye on the case.
A third person, who is a juvenile and whose identity was not revealed because of his age, was also charged but Tara Finch says he was released. She believes the case against him was dismissed.
WBTV asked the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office if the case against the juvenile was dismissed but a spokesperson for the office said prosecutors cannot release any information because the case involves Juvenile Court.
"I'm furious," Zachary's mother said in a one-on-one interview with WBTV in Oct. 2017. "I want to know who raised these men to be so violent and hateful."
"You wonder when it will stop. I do not know if there are more or not. God, I would hope not," Finch's mother said. "Zachary loved life and these three hateful individuals they didn't know him and they didn't give him a chance. I think kids need to think about who they are impacting. It is not one life taken because Zachary was loved by so many people, it is hundreds of lives."
Finch was a senior at the University of the Cumberlands (UC) in Williamsburg, Ky., and a member of the Patriots baseball team, the University says.
To honor Finch's love for baseball, and his position on the University of Cumberlands' baseball team, many who attended Finch's funeral wore University of Cumberlands' baseball t-shirts.
Through tears, Tara Finch, also thanked CMPD for "staying on this case for this long."
"I am so sorry I could not have protected him from this violence," said Finch. "We love him and we miss him, but I am so proud of the man that he was."
After Finch's killing, police opened 14 "exchange zones" at QuikTrip convenience stores where people can more safely conduct online transactions.
Wilson is being tried as an adult.
The name of the second 15-year-old has not been released.