CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte teen was found guilty of murder in the 2017 slaying of a college baseball player.
Jah'Zion Wilson, 17, was on trial for setting up a robbery and luring Zach Finch to an apartment complex in west Charlotte.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Wilson guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, which makes him eligible to get out in 25 years.
"I'll be at that parole hearing in 25 years and I'll be at every one after that and if I'm not around my kids will be there," said Finch's mother, Tara Finch.
Officials said they considered Wilson's age during his sentencing.
Members of Finch's family spoke to the court before Wilson was sentenced. They said that while some of their burden was lifted, their lives will never be the same.
"And the rest of our days we will continue to be doing good things in his name because we know he would have been doing them himself," said Finch's sister Hannah Finch.
Tara Finch said she's thankful that a jury convicted Wilson in her son's death.
"We are broken forever, but tonight we're going to celebrate Zachary's life because we know he was here with us today," said Tara Finch.
At the sentencing, the family hoped to see any hint of sorrow on Wilson's face.
Channel 9's veteran crime reporter Glenn Counts, who was in court, said Wilson showed no emotion.
"We've been in court probably over 60 times and never not one ounce of sadness or remorse or apologies in his face. Nothing," said Tara Finch.
In court, Wilson's attorneys maintained his client's innocence. The defense claimed Wilson did not fire the deadly shot and is disappointed in the verdict.
"How is he going to react? He's very sad," said defense attorney Chiege Okwara.
Finch was trying to buy a phone for sale on the app Letgo in 2017, but police said the teens he met tried to rob him instead. Finch was shot and killed, and Wilson was found guilty of pulling the trigger.
The trial for Wilson began last Monday and closing arguments wrapped up Thursday.
Finch’s family members started crying during opening statements.
His mother was the first witness called to the stand. She said her son told her he was going to buy a phone, and something gave her a bad feeling.
“I told him not to go. I asked him again not to go,” Tara Finch said.
She said her son told her he was going to meet a father who had his two kids with him, and he would be OK.
He said, “I love you, Mommy,” and she responded, “I love you, too.”
On Tuesday, prosecutors played audio of Wilson discussing what led to Finch being shot in the back.
Wilson is heard telling his parents that "the deal went wrong," before affirmatively answering his mother's question that he had a gun.
Prosecutors had offered Wilson a plea deal to spend 18 years in prison, but after meeting with family members on Wednesday, he turned it down, paving the way for jury selection.
Tara Finch wore a necklace to court that contains her son’s ashes and his thumbprint, with the words: I love you to the moon and back.
"There is no end for us. He doesn't come back," she said.
In the past, his attorney has argued that Wilson's parents weren't there when investigators first arrested and questioned him. He was 15 years old at the time of his arrest.
Police initially arrested three teenagers. Charges against one have been dropped and the other, Demonte McCain, cut a deal.
"I'm expecting justice to be served and this person to pay for the horrific act they did, so Zachary can somehow rest in a little bit of peace," Tara Finch said.
After Zach Finch's murder, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department created safe zones, which are public places where buyers and sellers can meet to conduct online sales.
The spots are marked by two red parking spots at every QuikTrip and are under 24-hour surveillance.
© 2020 Cox Media Group