Inside a Mecklenburg courtroom on Thursday, a Charlotte mother was not allowed to talk to the accused killers of her son.
Afterward, Tara Finch had a few things she wanted the say.
"You didn't know him. You had no right to take his life," she said through tears, holding a framed photograph of her 21-year-old son, Zack.
"He would have been your friend."
The mother's remarks were directed at Jahzion Wilson and Demonte McCain, two of the three Charlotte teenagers accused of shooting Zack Finch last June. Both made brief appearances in court as at least a dozen of Zack's friends and family watched. Tara Finch cried throughout.
Zack Finch was a scholarship baseball player and one year short of graduating from the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky when he went online last year to find a cellphone to buy.
He thought he found one on the marketplace application LetGo. He went to pick up the phone on Father's Day in southwest Charlotte, and was shot and killed near Clanton Road. The people who Finch thought wanted to sell him a phone had come to rob him instead, prosecutors say. Two of the accused killers were 15 at the time.
“As far as what the victim did, there doesn’t appear to be any type of defense or fighting that led to the shooting,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Capt. Chris Dozier said at the time. “The motive here seemed to be robbery, but to have this happen and have such a disregard, for such a young person to commit this kind of crime is disturbing.”
Zack Finch did not know any of the people he would be dealing with when he drove off to buy his phone. In response to his death, police set up 14 "exchange zones" at QuikTrip convenience stores across the Charlotte area where buyers and sellers can safely close online deals.
In the courtroom, Tara Finch waited close to an hour before her son's shooting case came up on the schedule. Wilson, 16, entered first. He wore a dress shirt and tan slacks, and his handcuffs made it difficult for him to hold up his beltless pants.
His attorney, Chiege Okwara, asked Superior Court Judge Bob Bell for a delay so Wilson could take the GED.
"Motion denied," Bell said, and Wilson was led away.
The 18-year-old McCain, short and slender, had long hair that hung far down his orange inmate jumpsuit. His attorney, Norman Butler, asked Bell for a two-week delay so Butler could have a better grasp of the case and McCain could understand the charges against him.
"Two weeks," Bell said.
A third defendant in the shooting did not appear. He has not been identified and will be tried in juvenile court.
Afterward, Tara Finch described her time in court had been "awful" because she had much she wants to say to the defendants but is not allowed to address them until the case is resolved.
When asked what she wanted to say to the youths she had seen in the courtroom, Tara Finch fell back on a description of her son.
"He was innocent. He was young. He was a baby," she said, holding a photo of Zack in his college baseball uniform.
"He was kind. That's why he trusted you."