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Jury, trial date set for Moretz case

POSTED: January 9, 2014 9:20 p.m.
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Kimberly Moretz

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For a third time, a jury has been selected for Kimberly Moretz’s trial.


A jury of eight women and four men was chosen Thursday for Moretz, 43, who is accused of covering up a grisly murder committed by her husband Chad Moretz a year ago.


Her trial is scheduled to start Feb. 5 in Effingham County Superior Court before Judge Gates Peed. Moretz’s trial was postponed in September and again in November.


Investigators believe Chad Moretz brutally killed Charlie Ray, a Wilmington Island man who had Tourette’s syndrome, on Jan. 1 or 2 of last year. Ray’s body was dismembered, with some parts of his body found inside the Moretzes’ Rincon home and other parts hidden in a storage unit in Jasper County, S.C.


According to investigators, Kimberly Moretz rented the storage unit and knew what was going to be placed inside. She was indicted by an Effingham County grand jury in March on charges of concealing a death, tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension of a criminal.


Chad Moretz held his wife hostage for several hours on Jan. 11 after officers went to the couple’s house on Whitehall Avenue to ask if they knew of Ray’s whereabouts. The standoff ended when Chad Moretz, with his wife next to him, walked onto the front porch brandishing an automatic rifle and was shot and killed by a SWAT team sniper.


The case attracted a great deal of attention, and the majority of the 47 potential jurors Thursday acknowledged they had seen or heard something about it through media reports or talk in the community. However, few could recall details other than Ray’s murder being “gruesome” or his body being “found in different places.”


Moretz sat stoically as jurors were questioned one at a time about their knowledge of the case, but did react slightly to a response from a woman who said she knows a SWAT team member “who was there and fired one of the shots.” Moretz cringed when the woman said she knew Moretz “was held hostage by her husband and he was shot.”


Most of the people in the jury pool said their minds were not made up about Moretz’s innocence or guilt, but 10 of them were excused by Judge Peed. Some questioned her innocence, including a woman who said “it seems a bit preposterous (Moretz) wouldn’t know about a dismembered body in the house.”


That same doubt was raised by a man who said his mother lives in the Westwood Heights subdivision, not far from the Moretz home.


“In the back of my mind would be one question that’s been there from day one,” he said. “How can you live in the house and not know what’s going on?”


Defense attorney Michael Schiavone plans to introduce evidence at trial that Kimberly Moretz suffered years of abuse from her husband and feared for her life. Chad Moretz had several run-ins with the law, including a domestic violence charge in Collier County, Fla., in 2008.


One member of the jury pool addressed that subject, saying “some of the talk (in the community) was that maybe she had been abused.”

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