Wilmington man pleads guilty to gun, several drug charges

James Stavely
James Stavely(New Hanover County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 9:36 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington man pleaded guilty to a gun charge and several drug-related charges in New Hanover County Superior Court on Thursday, Sept. 14, according to the Office of District Attorney Ben David.

According to the announcement, 35-year-old James Stavely plead guilty to:

  • Possession of firearm by felon
  • Possession with intent to sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine)
  • Possession with intent to sell and deliver a schedule I controlled substance (heroin)
  • Possession of heroin
  • Driving while impaired

Stavely received a minimum sentence of 60 months (five years) and a maximum sentence of 109 months (nine years and one month) in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

“The evidence presented in court and other evidence shows that this defendant first committed a drug and firearm offense on October 2, 2021 at around 10:25 when officers from the Wilmington Police Department found this defendant asleep behind the wheel of a GMC Envoy while the vehicle was parked in the left turn lane near the intersection of Shipyard Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road,” the release states. “After waking Mr. Stavely, officers performed a canine sniff on the vehicle, and once the canine positively alerted for the presence of narcotics, officers found 59 bindles of heroin underneath the driver’s seat of the car along with a Kel-Tec .380 caliber handgun.

“The defendant is prohibited from possessing firearms based on a lengthy criminal history including prior felony drug and firearm convictions. Officers then found a black box concealed under the center console of the vehicle which contained 7 grams of raw heroin and 188 grams of methamphetamine.”

The release shared details concerning another incident involving Stavely that occurred in 2022.

“A second offense was then committed by Mr. Stavely on December 23, 2022, when this defendant was observed driving erratically on Lullwater Drive in Wilmington,” the release adds. “Once officers from the Wilmington Police Department stopped his vehicle, they observed this defendant to be disoriented, unsteady on his feet, and very lethargic.

“He also exhibited multiple clues of impairment on each of the standardized field sobriety tests used by officers in impaired driving investigations. A search of Mr. Stavely’s vehicle was subsequently performed, and inside, officers found a backpack containing a pill bottle which was filled with 16 bindles of heroin.”