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A Roanoke Rapids man will spend 39 months in federal custody after District Judge James C. Dever III in Raleigh sentenced him Wednesday for a crime he committed in November of 2017.

James Randolph Williams Jr. will receive three years of supervision upon his release; must pay a special assessment of $100 and must support his dependents while incarcerated, according to minutes contained in the federal court record.

The court also recommended Williams receive intensive substance abuse treatment and pursue vocational and educational opportunities while housed at Butner Federal Correctional Institution.

Williams was indicted August of last year for possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon.

The case stems from a call at Walgreens after Roanoke Rapids police officers responded to a disturbance call which started outside the business but eventually filtered inside.

Police said officers learned Williams had a gun but stashed it on a shelf before encountering law enforcement.

The weapon was located and secured.

In a request for sentencing variance last month in which he asked the court to sentence him below the prescribed range, Edd K. Roberts III, who served as attorney for Williams, wrote the Roanoke Rapids man went to the drug store November 7, 2017, to pick up medicine for his son.

In the parking lot he encountered a man leaving the store and an argument ensued. “At some point during this argument, Mr. Williams felt threatened … and went back to his vehicle and retrieved a .32-caliber handgun,” Roberts wrote in the request.

The man allowed Williams to pass and enter but followed him into the store and continued “to utter fighting words towards Mr. Williams.”

Store employees separated the two and called law enforcement due to the heated exchange between the two. “At no time during this exchange did Mr. Williams point the firearm …,” the document says. “When law enforcement arrived Mr. Williams hid the firearm on one of the higher shelves in an attempt not to get caught with it because he knew it was unlawful for him to have a firearm. He cooperated with law enforcement and gave a statement but didn’t disclose the fact that he possessed a firearm.”

Roberts contended factors in this case the court could consider “are Mr. Williams’ lack of a positive home environment during his developmental years and the fact that he provided support and care for his children.

“James Randolph Williams Jr. was born in Roanoke Rapids to unwed parents” and “bounced around between his parents house and relatives as a youth. Although his basic needs were met he lacked stability and consistent positive influence during these developmental years which made him more susceptible to the pull of negative influences outside the home.”

The document said he witnessed the abuse of his mother by his step father as a young child which he still struggles with today. “The abuse he watched his mother endure during his childhood was so bad that she was hospitalized on different occasions. This abusive home environment took a toll on James that showed in his attentiveness at school which ultimately led to him not going at all. He dropped out in the ninth grade. However, despite the setbacks in his youth James still was able to work and achieve a GED in 2011.”

Roberts wrote, “James is a loving father as he provided money and support to his two sons (aged 5 and 3). He saw his sons weekly as he kept them on average two or three days per week. His youngest son needed extra care due to his autism and frequent seizures.

“James was part of that regular care prior to his arrest. He also has a daughter he has yet to meet who was born after his incarceration on the instant offense. He looks forward to getting out one day and being reunited with his children.”