Trial set for Horry County woman who challenged murder charge under Stand Your Ground law in husband’s shooting

An Horry County woman, who filed a Stand Your Ground challenge saying she was protecting herself when she shot and killed her husband inside their home in 2013, must stand trial in the incident, a judge has ruled.

Circuit Court Judge Benjamin H. Culbertson filed an “order of assignment and setting date certain trial” on Friday that Heather Sims must stand trial on Nov. 16, according to court records.

Circuit Court Judge Cordell Maddox was assigned to preside over all hearings and the trial in the case, according to the order by Culbertson, who is the administrative judge for the 15th Judicial Circuit, which includes Horry and Georgetown counties.

Heather Sims must face a trial on a charge of murder in the Aug. 11, 2013, shooting death of her 35-year-old husband, David Sims.

Heather Sims and the attorneys in the case could not be immediately reached Monday for comment about the ruling.

The 33-year-old woman had sought immunity from the murder charge under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which states deadly force is allowed against an intruder or attacker in a person’s home, business or vehicle.

The law also states such force is allowed if the person is not doing something illegal or to prevent death, great bodily injury or during the commission of a violent crime. According to the law, a person, other than a law enforcement officer, who uses such deadly force is immune to criminal prosecution and civil action.

Maddox presided over a four day hearing in July where prosecutors and Sims’ attorney, Morgan Martin, presented witnesses and evidence about how the crime occurred and Sims’ involvement.

On the last day of the hearing, July 9, Maddox told the attorneys and numerous people who watched the proceedings that he expected his decision in about two weeks.

“Whether I dismiss it or whether it goes to trial . . . you’ve got a child at best that has no father and you’ve got a child that potentially could have a mother in prison,” Maddox said on July 9 at the end of the hearing. “I take this very seriously. People’s lives have a great value in my opinion, people’s freedom has a great value and a child’s life has supreme value in my opinion.”

David Sims Jr., died from a single gunshot wound to the chest inside the couple’s master bathroom at their home on Old Reaves Ferry Road in Horry County.

Heather Sims testified that David Sims came at her with a knife and she grabbed a loaded gun from a bathroom drawer and shot him. She said she was fearful for her life when she shot him as she stood in the doorway of the bathroom.

However, prosecutors argued the law should not apply in domestic violence situations like the Sims case and that Heather Sims planned the shooting, said Nancy Livesay, who is prosecuting the case for the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

“We have an issue with two people in the home and only one lives to tell her story,” Livesay said July 9 at the end of the hearing. “We are no where near a preponderance of evidence. We are no where near saying this is a self-defense case . . . The state asks this case not be dismissed and be bound over to trial.”

Martin told Maddox that no matter the opinion of the law their evidence showed she was protecting herself during the shooting.

“We are really serious that we have carried the preponderance of the evidence in the burden in this case whether one likes the law or doesn’t like the law. It is the law and that’s where we are today,” Martin said July 9. “In my opinion, they [prosecutors] don’t have answers they have questions and we have factual evidence.”

During the hearing, experts, crime scene officers, police and Heather Sims testified about the shooting, how it occurred and evidence such as the knife, DNA, blood and injuries.