A jury was chosen and the trial for Sidney Moorer, charged with kidnapping Heather Elvis, began as three witnesses testified Monday at the Horry County Courthouse.
“At its heart, this case is about an affair,” said Martin Spratlin, assistant solicitor with the 15th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office during his opening statement. The affair ended after Tammy Moorer, Sidney’s wife who is also charged with kidnapping, found out about it, Spratlin said.
“We’ve got an answer for everything because he didn’t do this,” said Kirk Truslow, Moorer’s attorney, during his opening argument. Sidney Moorer has now been “put in a position to fight for his life,” Truslow said.
Witnesses testified that Elvis may have been pregnant and that she deeply feared Tammy Moorer.
Jessica Cooke, who was Elvis’ supervisor at the former Broadway at the Beach restaurant Tilted Kilt in Myrtle Beach, took the stand as the first witness, and she talked about the relationship budding between Moorer and Elvis.
Elvis was a hostess and Moorer a maintenance man who would bring her coffee and bagels, Cooke said.
The relationship ended in October 2013, and Elvis showed up with bruises and a black eye around the time it concluded, Cooke said.
Elvis gave her different scenarios as to how she was injured, first saying she hit herself with her car door, then claimed she was jumped in the Wal-Mart parking lot and stabbed her attacker to defend herself, Cooke said.
Elvis also began gaining weight and went up several clothing sizes. She took a pregnancy test at the Tilted Kilt, but the test was inconclusive and read error instead of a clear result, Cooke said.
Eventually Elvis faced some backlash from other girls at the restaurant because of her involvement with Moorer, a married man, and Elvis also became fearful after receiving harassing calls from Tammy Moorer and worried she would come to the restaurant, witnesses said.
Next, witnesses Jody Davenport and Megan Bonfert — who both worked with Elvis at the Tilted Kilt — took the stand and echoed much of what Cooke said about the relationship between Sidney Moorer and Elvis.
The witnesses, who were questioned by assistant solicitor Nancy Livesay and Truslow, also said Elvis had trouble with her family at home.
You and only you will decide the true facts of this dispute.
Judege R. Markley Dennis
Opening arguments began around 3:30 p.m.
Moorer lured Elvis to Peachtree Boat Landing in Socastee on Dec. 18, 2013, took her against her will, then tried wiping away all evidence of the incident, Spratlin said during his opening statement.
“In the early morning hours of December 18th, that man set a trap for Heather Elvis,” Spratlin said.
Sidney Moorer called Elvis from a payphone near Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach around 1:30 a.m. Dec. 18, 2013, shortly after Elvis got back from a date with someone else, and had a four-minute conversation with her, Spratlin said.
Co-workers testified Elvis was upset and not herself after her break-up with Sidney Moorer, but slowly started to become her old self again.
Elvis made a call to Moorer’s cellphone and went to Peachtree Landing to meet him, Spratlin told the jury. Her car was found abandoned the next day and she remains missing.
Spartlin told the jury Sidney Moorer then tried to wipe away traces of any evidence left behind.
Moorer was calling Elvis that night to ask her to stop leaving notes on his car, Truslow said when he addressed the jury in his opening statement.
Horry County police, who are in charge of Elvis’ case, felt pressure by the public — a public who was distorting facts and spreading misinformation — and arrested Sidney and Tammy Moorer before solving the case, Truslow told the jury.
“They made an arrest to solve a case instead of solving a case then making an arrest,” Truslow said.
Trial proceedings started after a wide pool containing hundreds of potential jurors was waded through, and 10 men and four women, who all appeared older than 30 and were mainly white, were selected in the process.
Selection began about 10 a.m. as the Clerk of Court did a roll call and each one stood up and informed the court of their amount of mileage to the courthouse, their occupation, martial status and spouse’s occupation.
Exemptions were made for certain potential jurors, such as those who care for young children or the disabled or who own and operate small business, and other reasons, or for those who knew about the case and had formed an opinion. Some were also excused if they knew involved parties or potential witnesses and felt that would sway their decision making.
Sidney and Tammy Moorer were charged with murder in connection with Heather’s disappearance, along with kidnapping, obstruction of justice and indecent exposure, but the murder charges were dismissed in March; however, they can still be brought back. A gag order signed in March 2014 prevents involved parties from discussing the case.
The couple was arrested in February 2014, and they remained jailed through 2014. Tammy Moorer was released in January 2015, and Sidney Moorer was released in February 2015 after bond was set at $100,000 for each of them by Dennis, who also modified the couple’s bond in September to allow them to move to Florida for work but remain under restrictions there, according to records.
The indecent exposure charges also were dismissed and an obstruction of justice charge was dropped for Tammy Moorer.
Sidney Moorer remains charged with obstruction of justice and kidnapping, and Dennis granted a motion June 14 submitted by Moorer’s attorney to separate the remaining charges and try them separately.