CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On the morning of April 3, 2018 a group of young people decided it was evidently fun to ride around in a stolen vehicle and try to rob people.
That same morning Maria Echeverria de Gomez was simply waiting in the parking lot of her apartment complex on Barrington Drive.
As fate would have it, her path crossed with the teens.
During a hearing in a Mecklenburg County courtroom on Thursday, an Assistant District Attorney told a judge that the young people, who were teenagers at the time, made some “terrible decisions.”
They drove onto Barrington Drive just as Maria de Gomez was standing in the parking lot of her apartment complex, purse in her hand, as she about to head to work.
The prosecutor said Shine and a juvenile got out of their stolen car and went to rob Mrs. de Gomez - a mother and a wife - and ended up shooting and killing her.
The Assistant District Attorney said Shine was the trigger man, but when he ran he dropped a phone that had a screen shot with his picture. That’s just one piece of evidence that helped police track the group down.
When Shine, now 20 years old walked into the courtroom, he stood with his attorney to answer to a reduced charge of second-degree murder.
“Your honor pursuant to a plea agreement Mr Shine is entering a plea of guilty."
But when the judge directly questioned Shine and asked "are you in fact guilty of that charge?”, Shine responded “no."
The court proceeding stopped while Shine and his attorney had a private conference.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family left court not sure was going to happen.
Shine later returned to the courtroom and his attorney told the judge that Shine was confused.
“I’ve explained that this is a plea offer where he’s taking responsibility for his actions. While others may have been involved as well, this is his own plea” the defense attorney said.
Then, Maria de Gomez' family heard finally what they wanted to hear.
“Are you in fact guilty of that charge?” the judge asked Shine again. “Yes sir" Shine responded.
The victim’s husband told the court that “I want to let Mr. Antonio know that what he did not only affected my family but obviously his as well. It hasn’t been easy for me to comfort my 13-year-old son who would wake up at 3:00 in the morning crying inconsolably.”
He added that it’s tough for him as well, “the shock of seeing my wife and the state that she died.”
He said he hopes Shine will “have enough time to meditate on this and gain a conscience that will help him to reflect on this and how his actions affected not only my family but his as well.
Unfortunately, he leaves a 13-year-old now wondering what to do, left without a mother and who has no fault of his own – just left stranded without a mother.”
Shine told the court that he wanted his family to know that he loves them “and will use the time to become a better me.”
“To the victim’s family, I really don’t have nothing to say. I’m sorry” Shine said.
The judge then sentenced him to 20-25 years in prison, with credit for 282 days in jail while waiting for the case’s conclusion.
Another defendant in the case - A'Vonne Williams pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of conspiracy to commit murder with a dangerous weapon.
Prosecutors say Williams “stayed in the car while the other two committed the offense.”
According to the Assistant District Attorney, the first-degree murder charge against the 17-year-old was reduced because “he did provide a statement. He has agreed to testify truthfully against his co-defendants and we do believe he had somewhat lesser role than some of the other individuals involved.”
But the state asked the judge to recognize as an aggravating factor the fact that Williams involved a juvenile in the crime.
Williams will be sentenced to 31-50 months.
Late Thursday afternoon, a third defendant went before a judge in Juvenile Court and admitted his role.
Under the law, juvenile court proceedings are confidential so the juvenile’s name cannot be published.
His attorney told the judge that her client’s intent was to break into cars. She said he had no intention of robbing or killing anyone and that it was another defendant, Antonio Shine, who brought the gun, committed the robbery and shot the victim.
The victim’s husband said “this is difficult for me” because the defendant “is about the same age as my son. I don’t know how to understand this."
In a victim impact statement, he said he hopes the young man learns how to choose better friends and that he wants justice to prevail.
The juvenile’s mother asked that her son be sent home since he has already spent nine months in juvenile detention.
The judge pointed out the severity of the crime and the fact that the teen was wearing an electronic monitor – for a prior crime - when the fatal shooting happened.
He will spend a minimum of 15 months in the youth detention center to a maximum time until his 19th birthday.