Barry Morphew's new defense team tangles with prosecutors in pretrial murder hearing

Barry Morphew was back in Colorado court on Thursday in connection with charges related to the disappearance and presumed death of his wife, Suzanne, who has not been seen for more than a year.

Morphew, 53, wore another orange and grey prison jumpsuit and a coronavirus facemask as he appeared before the judge for his Thursday evening status conference hearing, where he was represented by his newly announced attorneys, Iris Eytan and Dru Nielsen.

The hearing was broadcast virtually, but reporters were not allowed to record sound or images. Both the defense team and prosecutors were physically present before the judge.

The lawyers primarily addressed a number of discovery issues, preservation of evidence and other motions.

The defense pressed for the prosecution to move quickly to hand over evidence in the case.

“We understand they have administrative issues, everyone does,” Eytan said. “It’s been 21 days…We ask that discovery be produced immediately, not in the middle of next week.”

Prosecutors countered that they have three weeks to hand over said evidence under state law.

Judge Patrick W. Murphy asked how long the prosecution still needed and Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lindsey said he expected to be able to hand it over by next Wednesday. The judge ordered it be handed over by close of business that day.

Murphy also agreed to a defense request to keep the warrants sealed, leaving many details about how investigators broke the case still out of the public view.

One notable point of disagreement came when Eytan asked for prosecutors to ensure police emails and text messages connected to the case were preserved, which the state argued was not feasible. Murphy did not immediately hand down a decision on that motion.

Morphew sat with his hands cuffed in in his lap, slouching at times or squaring his shoulders and leaning in at others. 

The next hearing was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 9.

Thursday marked Morphew’s first time in court since prosecutors announced additional charges against the embattled father of two. On May 19, Chaffee County prosecutors added two felonies, tampering with a deceased human body and possession of a dangerous weapon, to his previous list of charges: first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with physical evidence and attempt to influence a public servant.  

Barry Morphew's May 5, 2021 booking photo

Barry Morphew’s May 5, 2021 booking photo
(Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office)


Morphew has been held at the Chaffee County Detention Center without bond since his May 5 arrest. He first appeared in court on May 6, but did not have the opportunity to announce a plea at the time. 

Details surrounding the evidence compiled in the ongoing case have remained under seal since the arrest, but District Attorney Linda Stanley said earlier this month that her office and investigators felt they have gathered enough to charge Morphew. 

The only information provided regarding the pair of new charges were outlined in an amended complaint released on May 19. Regarding the weapon possession charge, court papers allege Morphew possessed a short rifle “between and including My 9, 2020 and March 4, 2021.”


As for the charge of tampering with a deceased human body, Morphew “destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed, or altered a human body, part of a human body, or human remains with intent to impair its or their appearance or availability,” court papers state. Morphew did so between May 9, 2020 and May 10, 2020, “believing that an official proceeding was pending, in progress, or about to be instituted, and acting without legal right or authority,” the document states. 

Following his arrest, officials also accused Morphew of submitting Suzanne’s completed 2020 Presidential Election ballot in October 2020, despite the fact that she had been missing since May 10, 2020, according to an arrest warrant that was first obtained by FOX 21 and pertains to voter fraud allegations. 

Since news of Morphew’s long-awaited arrest, Suzanne’s relatives and friends have spoken up about their concerns regarding Barry, or their sister’s safety. 

Suzanne’s sister, Melinda Moorman, told local Colorado station Heart of the Rockies Radio that Suzanne had “made implications that she had concerns about her safety” as her relationship with her husband deteriorated.

Moorman was asked if her sister had ever made comments about Barry that would raise concerns for her. 

This undated photo shows Barry and Suzanne Morphew

This undated photo shows Barry and Suzanne Morphew


“Yes, Suzanne did. She definitely made implications that she had concerns about her safety,” Moorman said. “And the condition of their relationship had, I think, deteriorated quite a bit over the last several years.”

Moorman added: “She was transparent with me, particularly on [the] Friday before she went missing, she revealed a very telling text to me – it was very profound, very transparent and it showed the state of her mind on that Friday before she disappeared.”

She did not provide additional information regarding the text. 

Suzanne’s brother, David Moorman, told local news station FOX21 that his suspicion of foul play “quickly grew” after Suzanne’s disappearance, “especially knowing my brother-in-law’s personality.”


Moorman said he would “leave it up to the experts of FBI to outline at the trial the cunning personality traits of Barry Morphew.”

“As we look toward the prosecution and a trial, we can only hope for full confession and learn the whereabouts of Suzanne,” Moorman continued. “I doubt that will happen and we all will be left with hearing horrific details that were perpetrated by pure evil.”

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