Morphew murder trial: Husband charged with wife’s murder denied bond as spy pen comes under scrutiny

As Suzanne Morphew remains missing more than a year after her disappearance in May 2020, her husband was denied bond during a Thursday court hearing, as Barry Morphew’s defense team and prosecutors discussed several pieces of evidence, including a so-called spy pen. 

Morphew’s defense team also submitted several motions to Colorado’s 11th Judicial District Judge Patrick William Murphy for consideration, including another seeking to have the first-degree murder charge reduced to second-degree murder. Several other motions focused on discovery issues, as prosecutors have struggled to retrieve and make readily accessible the large amount of digital evidence in the case, Fox 21 reported. 

“It is unfair that Mr. Morphew is sitting in jail being held hostage when there is no physical evidence that a murder has occurred,” one of Morphew’s defense attorneys, Iris Eytan, told the judge Thursday.  

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Barry Morphew was not present in the courtroom and listened to the hearing via a video conference app. 

In this still image from video, Barry Morphew, center, appears in court in Salida, Colo., Thursday, May 6, 2021. Morphew was arrested on Wednesday, May 5, in connection with the disappearance of his wife, Suzanne Morphew, who was last seen a year ago on Mother's Day, May 10, 2020. 

In this still image from video, Barry Morphew, center, appears in court in Salida, Colo., Thursday, May 6, 2021. Morphew was arrested on Wednesday, May 5, in connection with the disappearance of his wife, Suzanne Morphew, who was last seen a year ago on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020. 
(KUSA via AP, Pool)

Murphy ordered prosecutors to provide enhanced audio from the spy pen, surveillance footage, photos and data from laptops and an Amazon Kindle e-reader within seven days. Prosecutors said they plan to call more than a dozen witnesses at trial. 

Suzanne Morphew, 49, was reported missing by a neighbor on May 10, 2020 – Mother’s Day. Authorities said she went for a bike ride and never returned. At one point, Barry Morphew pleaded for his wife’s return in a video posted on Facebook. 

Suzanne Morphew’s brother, Andrew Moorman, previously told Dr. Phil that he suspected her husband might be behind her disappearance. 

Much of the case has remained under wraps, especially after the judge ruled last week for the 130-page arrest affidavit to remain sealed. 

During Thursday’s proceedings, Murphy refused to grant Morphew bond, as the defense lamented about how many of the digital files provided as evidence in the case cannot be opened. With no body recovered, prosecutors will rely heavily on hotel surveillance video and photographs taken by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

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Barry Morphew previously said investigators were trying to blame him for the May 10 disappearance of his wife, Suzanne. He was arrested Wednesday and is charged with first-degree murder. 

Barry Morphew previously said investigators were trying to blame him for the May 10 disappearance of his wife, Suzanne. He was arrested Wednesday and is charged with first-degree murder. 
(Courtesy of Suzanne Morphew’s Family)

Alleged evidence also was found on an HP laptop, kindle, and Apple laptop recovered from Barry’s home, as well as the spy pen, phone data and information found on Suzanne’s iCloud account. 

Eytan pointed to several examples where 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley’s office allegedly excluded evidence or had discovery violations, arguing that the defense was only provided materials three days ago — despite needing it available earlier on June 2. Furthermore, there are issues with reading the complete 1 terabyte of information handed over to the defense. 

But the prosecution insisted that their office has gone the extra mile in retrieving and providing the evidence, having met with detectives in Denver to discuss the best way to share the files. 

“The statement of we’ve had all this discovery for a year, is just not true. I understand our obligation of discovery,” Stanley said, claiming her office has had dozens of conversations with Eytan and another defense attorney, Dru Nielsen, to remedy the issue. 

Barry Morphew's May 5, 2021 booking photo 

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

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She said the files might have been copied incorrectly. Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution is purposely delayed sending over information about the investigation ahead of an upcoming four-day-long preliminary hearing. 

Prosecutors plan to bring 18 witnesses for a four-day preliminary hearing, according to Eytan. 

A date for the next hearing has not been set but Murphy said it will not take place on a video conference app. 

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