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A judge has warned that possible exculpatory evidence may be favorable for the defense ahead of Barry Morphew’s trial for the murder of his wife, which has been set to begin in May in Colorado.
Morphew, 53, is accused of killing his wife after suspecting her of having an affair, as previously reported. Suzanne Morphew, 49, has not been seen since 2020's Mother’s Day weekend. On May 10 of last year, she was reported missing when her daughters couldn’t reach her while they were away on a camping trip. A massive search commenced when Colorado authorities found her bicycle in a ravine; she is still missing and her body or remains have not been found.
Chaffee County Judge Patrick Murphy said on Friday that there was enough probable cause to try Barry Morphew.
“Is it possible Mr. Morphew would be convicted? Yes,” Murphy said, according to 9 News. “Is it fairly likely he would be convicted?... This case could go either way in front of a jury.”
On Friday, Murphy set a trial date for May 3, 2022.
Morphew was charged in May with first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and attempting to influence a public servant in connection with the murder of his wife, according to a statement by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office. His arrest warrant remains sealed, authorities said.
During a four-day preliminary hearing in August, prosecutors presented text messages from Suzanne Morphew which painted a picture of a deeply troubled marriage.
“He won’t speak of divorce,” she had texted her friend. “Begging for another chance. I’m so torn. But [in] my heart, I know who he is.”
FBI Agent Kenneth Harris said Morphew accused his wife of sleeping with another man in a basement, according to Fox affiliate KXRM. Suzanne’s friend, Holly Wilson, claimed that Morphew said, “If I find him, I will shoot off his balls and shove them down his throat.”
Suzanne Morphew’s affair with Jeff Libler lasted for more than two years, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Commander Alex Walker testified, according to KDVR. The pair had met up six times, including multiple times in Indiana, where they both attended high school.
“He’s not stable,” she had texted a friend in reference to her husband, according to the Associated Press. “It’s guilt and desperate measures he’s taking… I can’t win with him. He’s too good at the manipulation. I feel stuck.”
Additionally, text messages between Morphew and his wife were presented at the preliminary hearing. She also suspected Morphew of having an affair in the days leading up to her disappearance.
“I’m done. I could care less about what you’ve been up to for years,” she texted him on May 8, 2020, according to Fox 21 News. “We need to figure this out civilly.”
In his response, Morphew indicated he was suicidal, as reported by ABC News.
“I promise you, you are wrong about all the crazy thoughts about me,” he responded. “Only a fool would stray from an angel like you. When I’m dead, which won’t be long, you guys will be taken care of.”
This wasn’t the first time Morphew expressed ideations of suicide, as indicated in an earlier text from May 6, 2020.
“Going to see my savior,” Morphew texted his wife. “This life on earth is a mear [sic] grain of sand compared to eternity.”
At the initial stages of the 2020 investigation, Morphew pleaded for his wife's safe return.
“Oh, Suzanne, if anyone is out there that can hear this, that has you, please. We’ll do whatever it takes to bring you back,” Morphew posted n a Facebook page devoted to finding his missing wife. “We love you. We miss you. Your girls need you. No questions asked.”
Morphew told investigators that he left their shared Colorado home at around 5:00 a.m. to leave for a construction job while his wife was sleeping in. He claimed that he texted her later that morning to wish her a happy Mother’s Day but did not get a response.
At Friday’s hearing, Judge Murphy presented three possible scenarios behind Suzanne Morphew's disappearance: Barry Morphew murdered his wife, someone else murdered her, or she left of her own volition. Murphy said there was enough probable cause to try Morphew for his wife’s murder but cited that DNA found in her car was connected to that which has been linked to several sexual assaults in Arizona and Illinois, making his second theory plausible.
Morphew's cash-only bail was set at $500,000. Murphy ordered Morphew not to leave the county, surrender his passport, and be subject to wearing an ankle monitor. A motions hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9.