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Priest in ‘road rage’ gun incident files to change not-guilty plea


The Episcopal priest charged with waving a gun at another motorist July 5 in a road-rage incident in the Treasure Coast plans to change his not-guilty plea, according to court documents.

William Rian Adams, 35, of Fletcher, North Carolina, was charged with pointing a semi-automatic Glock 22 — a 15-round, .40-caliber pistol — from his red 2014 Corvette at Sharon Hughes, 54, and her son Christopher, 24, near Palm City in northern Martin County.

In about three hours of dashboard camera video, Adams adamantly denied waving a firearm. He insisted the gun, which he owned legally, and for which he had a concealed-weapon permit, never came out from under his seat.

The change of plea motion was filed Friday by Adams’ lawyer, Brian H. Mallonee of Fort Pierce. He could change it to guilty, guilty of a lesser offense, or no contest. A hearing is set for Friday morning.

Sharon Hughes said Monday she has not been notified of the change of plea but said prosecutors have told her in recent weeks they were working on a deal. She said she planned to attend Friday’s hearing.

Hughes said she did not want to comment further until she learned what Adams will plead, except to say, “He did what we said he did to begin with. We were going to go through with testimony no matter what.”

Mallonee, who in the past has professed Adams’ innocence, wasn’t available Monday, his office said. The State Attorney’s Office for Martin County could not be reached Monday.

Adams still is listed in letterhead as rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, which is south of Asheville.

Adams “is on leave for a few weeks allowing him to focus on his family,” the church’s July 15 newsletter said. “We ask that you refrain from gossip or judgment and to hold him and his family in prayer.”

A call to the church and an email to the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina weren’t returned. The diocese did issued a statement from its bishop just after the incident, saying in part that Adams and his family are receiving “pastoral care.”



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