Sidney Moorer trial: Lawyers deliver opening statements
It’s been more than 2,000 days since Heather Elvis’ friends and family have seen her, and there are two people responsible, prosecutors claim.
“It’s been 2,093 days since Heather Elvis could wrap her arms around her father, Terry, and kiss her mother, Debbi, and tell her little sister, Morgan, that she loves her,” assistant solicitor Chris Helms said Tuesday.
One person has already been convicted in connection to Elvis’ 2013 disappearance. Now, an Horry County jury will decide if co-defendant Sidney Moorer is guilty.
Sidney Moorer faces decades in prison on kidnapping and conspiracy charges. His wife, Tammy Moorer, was found guilty in October of kidnapping and conspiracy and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“Sidney Moorer and his wife, Tammy Moorer, conspired, planned … and executed that plan to kidnap Heather Elvis,” Helms said.
Helms described to the jury the state’s theory of the crime. It started with Elvis and Sidney Moorer working together and then engaging in a romantic affair. When Tammy Moorer learned of the relationship, she restricted Sidney’s movements and actions, Helms said. That included handcuffing Sidney Moorer to their bed.
“He is handcuffed to the bed. She does not trust him enough to get up and pee in the middle of the night,” Helms said.
On December 17, 2013, Sidney and Tammy Moorer went to Walmart and bought a pregnancy test. They then went to Seaboard Street, where Sidney Moorer called Elvis from a pay phone. It was their first contact in months, Helms said.
Elvis was tracked via her cellphone to Peachtree Landing outside of Myrtle Beach, where a truck believed to belong to the Moorers was also spotted.
The next day, Helms said, Sidney Moorer was no longer under Tammy’s rule. He was allowed to use a cellphone that Tammy Moorer took away, and Sidney Moorer returned to work.
“It’s amazing, it’s a circumstance,” Helms said, “and you can’t ignore it. It’s logic and common sense.”
A clean-shaven Sidney Moorer, wearing a blue suit and tie, watched the lawyers and jury during the opening statements. Sidney has faced trial before on kidnapping charges, but it ended in a hung jury. He was convicted in 2017 on an obstruction of justice charge connected to the case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The Elvis family filled one side of the Horry County courtroom as a handful of spectators also watched opening statements. Sidney Moorer’s children were not present for the start of the trial.
One of Sidney Moorer’s attorneys, Jarrett Bouchette, said his client had no reason to kidnap Elvis. Sidney Moorer had no way to make sure there was no physical evidence left behind, such as Elvis’ blood in the Moorers’ truck, he said.
“He had no motive to wish any harm on Ms. Elvis,” Bouchette said.
Horry County police were pressured by constant media coverage to make an arrest in the case and rushed in their investigation, Bouchette said.
“They want to make the community feel safe, they want to say they got someone,” he said.
Bouchette implored the jury to listen to the evidence and remember that Sidney Moorer is presumed innocent. He said if they do that, they won’t have to wonder in the future if they put an innocent man in prison.
“We can’t give justice to Heather Elvis by giving injustice to another citizen like Sidney Moorer,” Bouchette said.
The prosecution also called several witnesses on Tuesday, including Elvis’ coworkers at the Tilted Kilt. Former kitchen manager Dennis Hart said he confronted Sidney Moorer after he and Elvis were seen having sex at the restaurant.
Once their relationship was public, Elvis and Sidney Moorer were open about it, Hart said.
For many witnesses, the defense questioned whether the coworkers knew other people Elvis might have been romantically involved with at the same time.
Elvis’ roommate Bri Warrelmann also took the witness stand and said Elvis was “devastated” over her breakup with Sidney Moorer a few months before she went missing.
On Dec. 18, Warrelmann said she got a call from Elvis, who was hysterically crying. Because of the rules of evidence, Warrelmann could not detail what Elvis said, but she did tell the jury what she told her friend.
“The last thing I said was ‘not to meet Sidney. Go to sleep and we would talk about it in the morning,’” Warrelmann said.