A carjacker high on drugs, whose vehicle struck and killed a Rock Hill motorcyclist in November, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday after the man’s widow pleaded for leniency because she did not want the killer’s life ruined.
Gilverto Corniel admitted to being high on methamphetamine in November 2016, on the day he ran over motorcyclist Joshua Moore, then fled for a week of crime before he was captured by police. Corniel’s mother wept inside and outside the courtroom at Moss Justice Center during his sentencing hearing.
After the sentencing, Moore’s mother embraced the mother of the man who admitted that his actions killed her son.
Moore’s wife, Scarlett Moore, told visiting Judge R. Ferrell Cothran in court that Corniel ruined her life and took her husband’s life.
But she said she had forgiven Corniel, and knows that he did not plan to kill her husband in the crash. Scarlett Moore asked for less than the maximum of 25 years, under a plea deal for Corniel.
“The only thing worse than losing one life is losing two,” Scarlett Moore said in court.
Corniel – whose lawyers described him in court as a drug addict pushed into the events that day by his girlfriend and fellow drug addict Victoria Kistler – accepted responsibility for his crimes and cried several times during court.
“I will never forgive myself ... for the grief I have caused these beautiful people,” Corniel said in court.
Joshua Moore, 21, a military veteran, died Nov. 12 when Corniel, 25, plowed into Moore’s motorcycle at Heckle Boulevard and Russell Street in Rock Hill, said prosecutors Willy Thompson and Kevin Brackett of the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Corniel and Kistler stopped in Rock Hill, in a vehicle stolen by Kistler, and were on the way to Florida to sell the car for parts, prosecutors said. The two had sex in a car in Rock Hill after injecting themselves with meth in the restroom of a nearby Burger King, prosecutors said.
The couple argued, then Corniel drove off in the stolen car, leaving Kistler, prosecutors said. Just a block away, Corniel ran a stop sign at Heckle Boulevard and slammed into Moore on his motorcycle, prosecutors said.
Moore’s mother, Cindy Adams, was riding a motorcycle right in front of her son on Heckle Boulevard that day. Adams said in court that she saw her son hit and killed, and saw Corniel flee.
“He did not outrun my screams, and my cries for help,” Adams said in court.
Adams and prosecutors asked that Corniel receive the maximum of 25 years, under a deal for guilty pleas to carjacking and hit and run resulting in death.
The judge said in court that he took into account both that Corniel accepted responsibility by pleading guilty, and that Moore’s wife had asked for mercy, in sentencing Corniel to 18 years in prison.
Moore died at the scene from what prosecutors said were “horrifying injuries,” but prosecutors said Corniel did not stop to render aid or call police.
Instead Corniel carjacked a nearby Jeep as the woman in the vehicle bailed out in fear for her life. Corniel then fled to Charlotte, where he hid out for a week in a frenzy of drug use and crimes, said prosecutors Brackett and Thompson.
Both Corniel and Kistler were caught a week later, after they sought refuge in the home of an acquaintance, who called police.
Kistler, who was not in the getaway car when Corniel hit Moore, nor in the Jeep that Corniel carjacked from a woman nearby, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for lying to police about her role, and grand larceny for stealing the car.
Kistler said nothing in court. She was sentenced to three years, under a plea deal.
Testimony showed Kistler had agreed to identify Corniel as the driver of the car that killed Moore if the case went to trial.