YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man about to be sentenced on a gun charge in federal court only had a gun with him because he had once been shot himself, a sentencing memorandum in his case.

Writing on behalf of their client, Willie Jo Dawson, 34, of Warren, federal public defenders Edward G. Bryan and Cathi Adinaro Shusky say their client was also living out of a car before he was 15, which was the age he began selling drugs to support his family.

Dawson is expected to be sentenced Thursday by U.S. Judge Sara Lioi after he pleaded guilty March 18 to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has been in federal custody since a criminal complaint in the case was filed against him last October.

The complaint stemmed from a Sept. 17, 2021, arrest by Warren police. Reports said officers found a loaded .357-Magnum revolver in a car he was driving after they pulled him over for a traffic violation.

Dawson is not allowed to have a gun because of 2006 convictions in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court for felonious assault, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

In their memorandum, Dawson’s attorneys wrote their client saw someone get shot when he was 11 years old and a friend of his died of leukemia when Dawson was 13.

Shortly after that, his family was homeless and they began living out of cars. Because he thought he needed to do something to help his family, he began selling drugs at 15, the memorandum said.

In May of 2021, Dawson was shot in the leg, and because he began fearing for his safety, he started carrying a gun, the memorandum said.

“Mr. Dawson only possessed the firearm because he is a recent victim of gun violence,” the memorandum said.

The memorandum also noted that Dawson has only had three misdemeanor arrests since 2008 and he has taken several classes while in detention awaiting sentencing in an effort to improve himself.