CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — For the first time in the murder trial of Barry Morphew, lawyers openly discussed evidence related to his wife, Suzanne, who was reported missing from her Chaffee County home over Mother’s Day weekend in 2020.
Morphew stands accused of Suzanne’s murder and is currently in custody in Chaffee County and awaiting trial. His defense attorneys, Iris Eytan and Dru Neilsen, asked the judge Thursday for a bond and a lesser charge, but Judge Patrick Murphy denied both requests.
Morphew was arrested in May of 2021, nearly a year to the day of Suzanne’s disappearance. He faces seven charges:
- Murder in the first degree
- Tampering with a deceased human body
- Tampering with physical evidence
- Possession of a dangerous weapon – short rifle
- Attempt to influence a public servant
- Forgery of Public Records
- Misdemeanor Elections-mail ballot offense
Morphew’s arrest affidavit remains sealed, despite the media requests that the 130-page arrest affidavit be made public.
At the hearing Thursday, prosecutors and Morphew’s attorneys discussed some of the evidence that will be presented at trial, including data from a spy pen, laptops, iPhones, surveillance video, and an Amazon Kindle. There is so much evidence that Morphew’s attorneys say they are having a difficult time accessing it all.
Eytan and Neilsen said they haven’t seen all of the available evidence, though the judge ordered it to be handed over in June. Additionally, Eytan said their investigators made multiple attempts to look at the data from the hard drive given to them by the state, but kept getting an error message.
The prosecution argued they tried to help the defense fix the issues they were having with the technology. Senior District Attorney Jeff Lindsay said it wasn’t up to them to show the defense how to open each file.
“The coordination could be better and I hope moving forward it is better. I’m glad the discovery issues have been brought to my attention. I don’t think this is a pattern, but just an enormous amount of information,” Murphy said.
Eytan also reported having experienced issues with the cell phone data of the Morphews’ two daughters, Morphew, a witness nicknamed “MG phone”, and audio from a spy pen. She also claimed they never received 26 exhibits that Barry was given by the FBI in April, or surveillance footage and photos from a hotel.
Eytan said they have the original audio of the spy pen, which she said was very hard to hear, instead of the FBI-enhanced versions. Eytan said in one recording, Suzanne can be heard talking to a man on the phone, and noted there are other recorded messages from the same individual, which she said were extremely critical to the case.
The judge ruled the prosecution did violate his orders on handing over all of the evidence in June. The court is giving the state seven days to hand over evidence that the defense said they never received, including the FBI-enhanced audio of the spy pen recordings.
The prosecution mentioned having up to 18 witnesses for the four-day preliminary hearing in August. The defense was concerned that would take weeks instead of days.
Judge Murphy said the next court proceedings will take place, in person, in the Chaffee County District Court.