Crime

Sidney Moorer trial wrapping up; judge says jury will decide the case

Sidney Moorer with his wife Tammy enter the courtroom for day three of the obstruction of justice trial. Moorer is charged with obstruction of justice in the 2013 disappearance of Heather Elvis. Aug. 30, 2017.
Sidney Moorer with his wife Tammy enter the courtroom for day three of the obstruction of justice trial. Moorer is charged with obstruction of justice in the 2013 disappearance of Heather Elvis. Aug. 30, 2017. jlee@thesunnews.com

A judge ruled a jury will decide whether Sidney Moorer obstructed justice in the Heather Elvis case on Wednesday.

After the prosecution rested, Moorer’s defense attorney filed a motion for a directed verdict, meaning the judge would decide on the case from himself instead of handing it to the jury.

The defense argued the State didn’t bring enough evidence forward and that the law is "murky" on the obstruction charge. The judge stated he thought there were parts of the case that were a jury issue.

Authorities allege Moorer tried stalling the investigation into the disappearance of missing Socastee woman Heather Elvis. Elvis was 20 years old when she vanished in December 2013 and has not been found.

Police say he was dishonest with them about a pay phone call to Elvis that night, but changed his statement when officers said they had video surveillance.

Moorer is also charged with kidnapping in the case, and a hung jury led to a mistrial on that charge last summer. A new date for a re-trial on that charge has not been set.

Moorer’s wife, Tammy is also charged with kidnapping in the case, and has not been to trial.

On Wednesday, Tammy’s cousin, Donald DeMarino took the stand and told the court that Sidney Moorer showed him a phone that revealed he knew something about the Elvis case that had not been disclosed after Moorer was released from jail.

DeMarino told the court he himself had been jailed multiple times in Horry County, and was approached by a detective while jailed on a failure to appear charge, but also stated he wasn't offered any deals from authorities in exchange for his testimony.

“I was in a dark place in this time in my life,” he said when asked why he didn’t come forward previously. “I didn’t know what to do. … I held it in for so long.”

He was not able to tell the court the alleged evidence was shown.

The judge has set specific boundaries in the case preventing attorneys from delving into the kidnapping charge attached to it.

Michael Melson, of software company Hawk Analytics testified as an expert witness Wednesday morning as the trial got going.

He said he studied phone records of Elvis and Sidney Moorer as they pertained to the phones’ locations and showed the jury a map of their movements based on what he said cellphone towers revealed.

He said he he looked at Heather Elvis’ phone to learn what her typical routine was.

He said her phone was never used by Moorer’s home in December, according to his testimony.

He said his data revealed, Elvis left her home about 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2013 and traveled toward Longbeard’s restaurant, back to her home, and lastly to the area of Peachtree Landing.

He testified Moorer’s phone showed he was near Elvis’ home that night about 11 p.m., near Sticky Fingers restaurant, then by Wal-Mart and a 10th Avenue payphone.

He said there was a blackout period on Moorer’s phone until around 3 a.m., which he said could have been from a dead battery when questioned by the defense.

The defense called into question the accuracy of his data and asked whether high traffic on one tower could make a phone jump to another for use. Melson said that would be unlikely given the time of night.

On Tuesday, Elvis’ former roommate testified Elvis called her on Dec. 18, 2013, the day she disappeared, and said Elvis contacted her very upset after getting a payphone call from Moorer, but the judge ruled she couldn’t discuss what was said, deeming it hearsay.

The trial began on Monday with the testimony of several police officers stating they thought Moorer was dishonest with them about a payphone call and other information.

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend

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