Skip to main content

Verdict Watch: Tammy Moorer Kidnapping Trial


A Horry County jury will decide whether South Carolina woman Tammy Moorer kidnapped 20-year-old Heather Elvis in 2013. Prosecutors said she got jealous that her husband Sidney Moorer had a relationship with the younger woman.

The victim has never been found. Initial murder charges were dropped. Sidney was found guilty of obstruction of justice, but his kidnapping trial ended in a hung jury last year. This case has stretched out for years, and may stretch out for years more.

If anything is clear at this point, it’s that the Moorers are done as a couple. Tammy said on the stand Monday that she and Sidney are separated, even though they remain married.

“And I hate him a lot now because he didn’t stand up for himself and testify at his last trial,” she said.

Moorer’s testimony Friday and Monday was marked by digs at Assistant Solicitor Nancy Livesay. She repeatedly called the prosecutor by first name, painted herself as a victim of overzealous authorities, and made direct addresses to the jury.

Livesay used this contentious testimony against Tammy in closing arguments Monday. She said it was fine that Moorer acted this way with her, but the prosecutor posed this question to the jury: If that’s how the defendant treated a grown woman like her, then how whould she have treated Elvis, a 20-year-old making the transition to adulthood?

Livesay compared Moorer to the evil queen in the tale of Snow White, but said instead of a mirror the defendant rested her sense of worth on her husband’s opinion. Instead of leaving Elvis alone when she promised to leave Sidney alone, Tammy kept after her, the prosecutor argued. One big reason was the victim’s apparent pregnancy. This was a “threat” that Heather would still be around the couple, Livesay said.

The prosecutor painted this alleged kidnapping as a team effort: Tammy had the motive, but Sidney had the means to lure out Elvis.

“One will not do without the other,” the prosecutor said.

Cell phone tower evidence showed that they were often in the same area as the victim, Livesay said. One of Tammy’s texts had her suggesting that Heather was in hiding.

A key piece of evidence is the Moorers buying a pregnancy test at a Walmart. Tammy said on the stand that this was for her, but Livesay pointed to evidence showing that the defendant hated her husband, and made references to smoking and drinking. Moorer clearly wasn’t trying to get pregnant, the prosecutor argued.

“By Tammy’s own words, she hates him,” said Livesay.

After buying the pregnancy test, Sidney made a payphone call to lure out Heather to a boat landing, the prosecutor said.

Defense lawyer Greg McCollum started his closing argument by needling the prosecution for the fairy tale analogy.

“The case is a joke,” he said. “They don’t have a case. They don’t have one piece of evidence.”

He said grainy video of the payphone call didn’t show Sidney Moorer. Other evidence failed to show that their truck was in the area, or that either wife or husband was on the boat landing that night. The state couldn’t provide that Heather Elvis was pregnant, he said. Evidence instead shows that Tammy was at home with her children and husband on the night of the disappearance, McCollum said.

He also argued that there’s no crime scene. The state doesn’t know where it is, he said. Expert witnesses brought by the prosecutors weren’t experts, but “crusaders” who came out with a preconceived notion of what they were going to say, he argued.

“The state’s own theory has changed in the course of this case,” he said. “And they don’t know what happened.”

He emphasized on the jury instruction that jurors had to find guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and warned them against changing their verdict because of outside pressure. Anything else would be violating their oaths.

“You’re not crime fighters,” he said. “You’re judges of the facts.”

Speaking ahead of the state’s rebuttal, he said that Livesay might attempt to steer jurors back to conviction, but he argued that all she had was a theory of what might have happened the night of Heather’s disappearance.

In her rebuttal, Livesay said they weren’t going to “reward” the defendants because investigators couldn’t find the body.

Jurors must deliberate on Moorer’s guilt for kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Note: The original version of this article incorrectly identified the defense lawyer as Casey Brown. His name is actually Greg McCollum.

[Screengrab via WMBF]


Verdict Watch

Verdict Watch Part 1

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: