Sunday, October 1, 2023

Wilmington felon convicted of drug, firearm charges

James Stavely, 35

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington man pled guilty to drug charges Friday and was sentenced to at least 60 months in prison.

James Stavely, 35, was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance methamphetamine, and a schedule I controlled substance heroin, as well as driving while impaired.

Stavely is prohibited from being in possession firearms due to his lengthy criminal history involving drug possession and firearm convictions.

New Hanover County Superior Court Judge Frank Jones sentenced Stavely to a maximum of 109 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Stavely was first charged with possession of drugs and a firearm in October 2021 when Wilmington Police Department officers found him asleep behind the wheel of a GMC Envoy. The car was parked in the left turn lane near the intersection of Shipyard Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road.

After walking Stavely, officers performed a canine sniff on the vehicle and officers found 59 bindles of heroin under the driver’s seat, along with a Kel-Tec .38-caliber handgun. A black box concealed under the center console was also found containing 7 grams of raw heroin and 188 grams of methamphetamine.

Over a year later, in December 2022 Stavely was found driving erratically on Lullwater Drive in Wilmington. When WPD officers stopped the vehicle, Stavely was disoriented, unsteady on his feet and lethargic, according to a press release. A search of his vehicle uncovered a backpack with a pill bottle containing 16 bindles of heroin.

“Thank to the investigative instincts and efforts of officers from the Wilmington Police Department in these two incidents, we were able to seize a substantial amount of narcotics and an illegally possessed firearm from this defendant, while simultaneously getting an impaired and dangerous driver off of our roadways,” Assistant District Attorney Brad Matthews said in the release.

District Attorney Ben David said his office is committed to prioritizing the prosecution of dangerous offenders such as Stavely.

“The combination of drugs and illicit firearms has resulted in deadly consequences throughout our community, and when you accompany that with the inherently dangerous act of impaired driving, like we saw with this defendant, then you are creating a recipe for disaster,” he said.

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