The husband of missing mom Suzanne Morphew will be released on bond – despite being sent to trial on charges of first degree murder and tampering with a dead body, a Colorado judge has ruled.
Barry Morphew, 53, was in court in Salida, Colorado, to hear closing arguments from the prosecution who said Suzanne’s ‘road to being murdered’ began when she told him she wanted a divorce days before she vanished and described it as ‘a domestic violence homicide’.
A judge ruled Friday there is enough evidence for the case to proceed nearly a year after his wife was reported missing on Mother’s Day 2020.
Prosecutors also revealed Suzanne had texted her sister Melinda the day before she vanished on May 10 to complain Morphew was ‘physically and emotionally abusive’ towards her.
Barry Morphew, 53, is to go on trial for the murder of his wife Suzanne next May
Cadaver dogs are brought back to the scene where Chaffee County Sheriff’s officers, FBI and CBI were searching for Suzanne Morphew in May 2020
Morphew sat impassively through the closing arguments and barely reacted when Judge Patrick Murphy announced his decision, telling court that he did see ‘probable cause’ for both first degree murder charges and a trial.
Murphy said Morphew might have had motivation to murder his wife, but the judge also noted that probable cause is the lowest standard of proof in the criminal justice system.
‘Is it possible Mr. Morphew would be convicted? Yes,’ the judge said. ‘Is it fairly likely he would be convicted? … This case could go either way in front of a jury.’
He outlined three possible scenarios: Barry Morphew killed his wife, someone else killed her or she disappeared on her own.
Judge Murphy also emphasized texts from Suzanne saying she felt ‘unsafe’ with Morphew and said his discovery of her affair amounted to a credible motive for murder.
He also said the court ‘can confirm’ that Morphew disposed of his wife’s bike helmet – which was found close to the Garfield Mine – and questioned why he drove 150 miles that Sunday morning for a job that couldn’t begin until the following day.
Morphew, who was wearing a light gray suit and cowboy boots for the hearing, will now be processed for release until the trial begins which has been scheduled to begin next May lasting for about one month.
The decision to set bond was opposed by the prosecution who asked for it to be $10m cash only – citing his lack of ties to Colorado and cash assets of approximately $3m following the sale of his Salida home and business.
In this still image from video, Barry Morphew, center, appears in court in Salida, Colorado earlier in the year
Morphew (pictured in court last May) will be released on Monday but will have to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his release and will be forced to stay in Chaffee county
Judge Murphy eventually decided to set bond at $500,000 cash and agreed to the prosecution’s request for him to be monitored by the police and to be forced to surrender his guns.
He denied the defense’s request for Morphew to be allowed to live in Gunnison while he awaits trial and banned him from contacting any of the witnesses.
Morphew will now be released on Monday but will have to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his release and will be forced to stay in Chaffee County as well as being made to attend every hearing in person.
Mom-of-two Suzanne, 49, disappeared on Mother’s Day 2020 and was reported missing when daughters Mallory, 21, and Macy, 17, were unable to get hold of her.
Barry Morphew posted a video on social media tearfully pleading for his wife’s safe return soon after she vanished. He was arrested May 5, 2021, amid what authorities described as an extensive and ongoing investigation that involved dozens of searches in Colorado and interviews of more than 400 people in multiple states.
Suzanne Morphew´s body has not been found.
Pictured, Garfield mine near Morphew’s home where it is believed that Barry dumped evidence
Barry’s mother Shirley, 75, was seen wiping away tears as she left court with her granddaughters (foreground) and another woman on the last day of preliminary hearings last month
Barry Morphew also is charged with tampering with a human body, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous weapon and attempting to influence a public servant.
He also faces one count of t voter fraud, after he cast a ballot for President Trump in his wife’s name during last year’s election.
Prosecutors told the court that they believe Morphew killed his wife on the night of May 9 and could have disposed of her body at the remote Garfield Mine, 12 miles from Salida.
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show the pitted remains of the former lead mine which sits 10,000ft above sea level and still retains a set of crumbling wooden buildings.
In police interviews, Morphew admitted driving close to the turn-off to the mine in the early hours of May 10 – but claimed he had done so because he had spotted a bull elk.
Barry and Suzanne’s adult daughters Mallory (left) and Macy (right) – who reported their mother missing on Mother’s Day 2020 – are seen leaving the court for a lunch break August 23
The decision to send Morphew to trial came after a four-day preliminary hearing in August that shattered the portrait he had painted of a happy, problem-free marriage. Morphew has not yet been asked to enter a plea.
Police revealed in court that Suzanne had been having a two-year fling with married Indiana dad-of-six Jeff Libler, while Morphew had accessed porn website Celebrity Jihad and extramarital dating site Ashley Madison.
Prosecutors also presented text messages between her and a friend from 2019 and 2020 in which she complained that her husband was picking fights and putting their children in the middle.
Cops said the pair had been fighting for years, with Morphew accusing his wife of being a habitual drunk and a drug addict who bought cannabis from street dealers.
But they also said he was desperately fighting to save his marriage but to no avail with Suzanne texting him on May 8 to say – ‘I’m done’.
That evening, Suzanne had a pizza from Moonlight Pizza and Brew Pub, telling her lover Lidler that she had enjoyed herself.
The following morning, Suzanne and Morphew had discussed going hiking but she spent most of the morning sending photos to Libler while he worked.
Morphew returned home at 2.40pm – at 2.47pm, his phone was put in airplane mode where it stayed until 10.17pm that evening.
Suzanne sent a final message to Libler just after 2.30pm and made one last call. The phone was not used again.
Police and prosecutors say it was that afternoon that Suzanne was killed, with witnesses revealing Morphew had a dart gun that investigators said was the murder weapon.
Agent Johnny Grusing of the CBI told the court that the animal tranquilizer it contained would have knocked Suzanne out in around 10 minutes and then caused breathing difficulties and hypoxia.
Barry appeared in court for the first time in May after he was arrested on charges of murdering his wife Suzanne, whose body has still not been found after she vanished last year
Grusing said the heavy breathing caused by the drug would have sounded like snoring – Morphew repeatedly told investigators that the last sound he heard from his wife was ‘light snoring’.
On the morning of May 10, data from Morphew’s white truck shows the door was opened seven times between 3.25am and 3.49am.
At 5am, the truck left the Morphew home and drove close to the Garfield Mine before being picked up on camera in nearby Poncha Springs at 5.14am.
Morphew then drove to Broomfield, near Denver, for a landscaping job but truck data showed he stopped several times and he was picked up on camera dumping trash in dumpsters along the way – including at a McDonalds and at a Men’s Wearhouse.
He then headed to a Holiday Inn in Broomfield, where he left the room reeking of chlorine and littered with wet towels according to co-workers Morgan Gentile and Jeff Puckett.
Morphew has consistently denied the allegations and, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Johnny Grusing, appeared shocked when he was arrested on May 5
Puckett told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview last September that he had also found ripped up insurance documents stuffed in the trash can.
In police interviews, Gentile said the job – which Morphew claimed was urgent – was scheduled for the following day and that he had been due to pick her up to drive to Denver at 5.30pm on May 10.
Instead, she received a call at 11am telling her he was already there and to drive herself up, and to bring an extra worker.
By the time Gentile and Puckett arrived, Morphew had already left citing a family emergency.
The next morning, she received another call from Morphew at 7.30am in which he said Suzanne had vanished and suggested a mountain lion could be to blame.
Undersheriff Rohrich described the video Morphew made pleading for his wife’s safe return as ‘crocodile tears’.
The couple with their two daughters, Mallory and Macy, who have been supporting their father
Barry learned his wife Suzanne had been having a two-year affair with one of her high school classmates, Jeff Libler (pictured), in the days before allegedly killing her
He told the court: ‘I thought of it like crocodile tears. He acted like he was crying but no tears.’
When police searched the home, they found it ‘perfectly clean’ but found a live .22 caliber bullet lying on the floor next to Suzanne’s side of the bed in the master bedroom.
They also discovered the charred remains of ring binders and a lacquered piece of wood in the fireplace – despite firewood placed nearby – and discovered an empty tranquilizer casing in the dryer, along with a pair of Morphew’s khaki shorts.
Police also revealed that the door of the master bedroom bore marks consistent with being forced open, while Morphew himself was found with scratches to both hands and his upper left arm.