ROBESON COUNTY -- The family of 17-year-old Zachary Meares is speaking out, after they believe the teen's killer was let off the hook.
Authorities arrested 17-year-old Jason Bass of Lumberton on charges of voluntary manslaughter. A police report says he shot Meares in the back of a truck, after Meares was trying to get a cell phone back.
Bass is now out on bond, but as we found out, the victim's family believes he should be charged with murder.
"Justice needs to be served," said Zachary's brother, John Meares. "They took an innocent life, and now it's time for the DA's Office to do their job."
Zachary Meares of Lumberton was shot and killed near a Burger King on Broad Street in St. Pauls in late November. Multiple sources tell Spectrum News three teens were questioned for the shooting, but only 17-year-old Jason Bass, also from Lumberton, was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting Meares.
Meares' brother says Zachary was meeting up with the three teens, including Bass, to pick up a cell phone that belonged to the family.
"My brother just went to retrive it, that was it," John Meares said. "He had no intentions of trying to fight this boy, just getting the phone back, that's it."
"He didn't have a gun," said Zachary Meares' aunt, Christina Meares Adams. "He didn't have a weapon, and he didn't even know the guy who murdered him."
Reports indicate the Robeson County District Attorney said evidence suggests Jason Bass feared for his life, prompting him to only charge Bass with voluntary manslaughter.
But Meares' family says Bass should be charged with murder and behind bars.
"If he really feared for his life, why didn't he shoot him in the foot or the hand," said Meares Adams. "Why did he have to shoot my nephew in the face, why in the face?"
If convicted, Bass faces a sentencing range of 51 to 89 months in prison. A punishment Meares' family believes doesn't fit the crime.
"Robeson County has a history of crime, violence, and drugs, and it's time for our court system to stand up and do something about it," said John Meares.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family to help pay for court costs, travel expenses, and attorney fees.
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