This photo of Jerry Wayne Willis was taken early Monday morning as he attempted to flee using a disguise. (Contributed photo)

BEAUFORT — A Morehead City man will serve a minimum of five years in prison for a slew of criminal charges related to drug and firearm possession, District Attorney Scott Thomas announced Monday. 

Jerry Wayne Willis, 44, was sentenced Monday in Superior Court by Judge Benjamin Alford to 54 to 102 months in prison, with an additional 6- to 7-month sentence to follow, and rounded off with 36 months of supervised probation, a $10,000 fine and all court costs.

Earlier this month, a jury found Mr. Willis guilty in absentia on charges of selling methampheatamine, possession with intent to sell or deliver methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell or deliver heroin, possession with intent to sell or deliver suboxone and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Spence.

According to Monday’s release, Mr. Willis sold methamphetamine to an undercover informant working with the Morehead City Police Department Aug. 26, 2016.

A search warrant for his property on Northgate Road was subsequently issued.

During the search, authorities found heroin and suboxone packaged for sale and several firearms, according to the release.

The firearms included an Eagle Arms semi-automatic rifle, along with a kit to convert it to “automatic fire” and a Mossberg shotgun. Also recovered were four bulletproof vests with armor plate inserts.

Mr. Willis, a self-declared “sovereign citizen,” refused all counsel and filed a motion Sept. 11 to have the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The motion was based on a bogus court-filing in the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, authorities say.

That motion was denied by Superior Court Judge Andrew Heath.

Mr. Willis claimed not to be a person, but some sort of “agricultural product” and therefore not subject to the laws of North Carolina or the United States. He also told Judge Heath that his name was not Jerry Willis, but Willis Jerry.

With his motion denied, a jury was selected and empaneled that day.

 The next morning, Mr. Willis fled and the trial continued in his absence, pursuant to North Carolina law. He was convicted, but not sentenced pending his capture.

Early Monday morning, Sgt. Jeremy Miller of the Morehead City Police Department obtained information on Mr. Willis and surveilled a house near his residence.

He observed three female subjects packing up and leaving in the night and upon a traffic stop, discovered Mr. Willis lying in the backseat disguised in a female wig.

He was subsequently brought before Judge Alford and sentenced.


Note: Under North Carolina’s structured sentencing law, a convicted criminal defendant must serve all of the minimum active sentence and may be required to serve up to the maximum sentence. Upon release at the conclusion of the prison sentence, a 9- to 12-month period of post-release supervision by a probation officer is required.

(4) comments


I guess it's just me but I don't understand this sentencer: 'Willis was brought before Judge Alford Monday morning and was given a prison sentence of 54-102 months in the DAC, followed by a 6-17 month sentence for the PWISD Suboxone, suspended for 36 months of supervised probation, with a $10,000 fine and all court costs'.

We need to give these offenders years and I mean YEARS. I understand 54-102 months = years but I don't understand the suspension and only a $10,000 fine


The firearms charges are federal violations, and if prosecuted, result in mandatory long prison sentences. The best thing to have done would have been to let the feds prosecute on the two firearms charges: 1. Possession of a firearm by a felon, and 2. the presumed possession of an item capable of converting a semi-automatic to full automatic. The law is somewhat open to interpretation concerning the conversion parts, and I doubt if this court is knowledgeable enough to discern if the parts constitute a true violation of the class III laws. However, the firearm possession charge is clear. The accused would do every minute of the federal sentence. Those who thump their chests about incarcerating criminals should be raising lots of noise over this one.


Well this looks and sounds like good law enforcement work! Something most people take for granted.


Convicted in absentia? That is wrong. The trial should be delayed until the accused captured, and present in court. This absentia thing is a very slippery slope indeed.

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