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N.C. 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, N.C., 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.

Watch FHP dashboard-camera video of the incident

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 was set for Friday morning.

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

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

Rian “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 immediately 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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