GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Hattiesburg man has been found guilty after climbing through the sunroof of a woman’s car, forcing her out of the vehicle, then driving it into another vehicle, causing the other driver to be seriously injured.
Shawn Moffett had only been out of prison for two days when he was arrested and charged with carjacking and attempting to leave the scene of an accident.
The 27-year-old Hattiesburg man was headed to the Coast on April 22, 2016, with his family and friends. Moffett smoked marijuana on the way down, according to court testimony. Shortly after that, he began acting erratically, forcing his sister to pull over near the old Sweet Peppers restaurant on Highway 49.
A 911 call was played for the jury made by a pedestrian in the restaurant's parking lot called authorities, giving a play-by-play to the dispatcher as the caller witnessed Moffett physically attacking his own sister, who was in the car with him. The witness told police Moffett's sister tried to get him back in the car but he broke through a window to jump out of the car.
Multiple testified that Moffett then ran across Highway 49, crossing the median and running into the northbound lanes. Thinking he needed help, several people stopped to try and assist him. Those witnesses say Moffett charged at them, swinging his arms, and shouting. One of the witnesses said he was even forced to pull out his own weapon to defend himself from Moffett.
With 911 calls flooding Gulfport Police Department, officers quickly responded. As soon as Moffett heard the sirens, police say he ran to a Volkswagon Passat and tried to get in. Meagan Rager, the woman who was driving the car, quickly locked her doors and rolled the windows up as Moffett jumped on her car. Despite her efforts, he was able to climb through the sunroof, forcing her from her own vehicle.
According to authorities, Moffett then sped off in the Passat, running the red light at the intersection of Highway 49 and O'Neal Road and crashing into a Nissan Altima.
The impact of that crash left Rager, a single mom of two, severely injured, causing her brain, chest, and head injuries. Witnesses testified in court about seeing her "lifeless body" hanging from the car's window.
"I have a broken sternum, broken ribs, my nasal cavity was broken. My right hand was almost completely cut off and had to be sewn back on. I had bleeding on the brain, and swelling on the brain as well," Rager told WLOX six weeks after the crash.
Police say an investigation into the crash revealed that Moffett was going as fast as 87 miles per hour when he hit the other car. The victim also took the stand and told the jury what she remembered about the crash and the effects it had on her life in the months to follow.
"Through tears, the injured woman testified that for months following the crash, she was unable to do anything and could not even change her two-year-old’s diapers,” said assistant district attorney Alison Baker, who prosecuted the case with Jason Josef.
Moffett jumped out of the crashed vehicle and tried to enter another car parked nearby. Officers were able to take him into custody before he could get in that car.
Attorneys for Moffett tried to argue that he was insane at the time and did not know right from wrong. Expert psychologists testified otherwise, saying he did not have any type of mental illness and knew what he was doing.
Moffett had only been out of prison for two days when this happened, having served time for a statutory rape charge. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the carjacking, to be followed by a suspended sentence and five years of probation for attempting to leave the scene.