Dramatic criminal trials fascinate America. The press and public have constitutional rights to watch. Barry Morphew sits in a Colorado jail right now charged with murdering his own spouse. Big rulings are coming this week, with a trial to follow. People are watching.
When Morphew and Suzanne Moorman married in 1994, this attractive couple appeared to have bright futures in their hometown of Alexandria, Indiana. Barry was a hard-working high school sports star. Suzanne had been a well-liked high school cheerleader. Both were attending Purdue.
It was Mother’s Day 2020 when Suzanne Morphew’s disappearance was discovered. Her husband, Barry, was in metro Denver for an upcoming job when he was contacted that Sunday afternoon regarding his wife’s vanishing.
To this day, no one has located this vibrant 49-year-old. Suzanne’s Indiana siblings were frantic and organized heroic search parties. Suspicion fell on Barry, who did not participate in the searches. Instead, Morphew published his own public expression of love, while requesting Suzanne’s safe return.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 3, 2020, Colorado’s 11th Judicial District voters selected Linda Stanley as their new District Attorney. Pledging to resolve cold cases, Stanley defeated former two-term DA Thom LeDoux in a close Republican primary before easily winning the general election.
Five months after taking office, Stanley expressed confidence she could prove Morphew guilty in court. She authorized the arrest and prosecution of Morphew for killing Suzanne. Before any murder trial though, Chaffee County Chief District Judge Patrick Murphy must make critical probable cause and bail eligibility rulings on Sept. 17.
Prosecutors usually win preliminary hearings. Expect Morphew to be bound over for trial based on probable cause. At this preliminary screening stage, evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution.
To keep Morphew in custody without bail, Judge Murphy must further find there is proof evident or presumption great that Morphew will be convicted of first-degree murder. The defense in this summer’s combined four-day hearing was feisty and formidable. Morphew hired two stellar Colorado criminal defense attorneys, Iris Eytan and Dru Nielsen.
Josh Maximon, an accomplished Colorado trial lawyer and a contemporary of Eytan and Nielsen, told me this dynamic duo have built their solid reputations “case by case,” first as Denver public defenders and then in private practice. According to Maximon, Eytan has merited the affectionate moniker “Hurricane Iris” because “she is a force of nature.”
Mike King worked decades as an investigator in Utah, including service at the Utah Attorney General’s Office as a criminal profiler. King’s tech-savvy adult children told King he would be great on YouTube. They were correct. Profiling Evil is a YouTube sensation.
Stanley is broadcasting gold as she’s proved many times now on Profiling Evil, where she is a regular guest. She entertains with stories about her life, the Morphew case and other prosecutions. Andrew Moorman, Suzanne’s brother, is also a regular guest on Profiling Evil — explaining why he suspects his brother-in-law.
Morphew wore business suits during the four-day combined hearing. That’s unusual for a man in custody not yet facing a jury. But Morphew wants to look good, and who can blame him? Judges are human. Judge Murphy has been watching Morphew and his behavior.
Other Morphew courtroom exchanges have also been noticed. Live on YouTube, when asked by King whether Morphew was staring her down, and whether she was staring right back at him, Stanley said (here at 46:46), “Every chance I got!” She then laughed.
Stanley won’t be easily intimidated. A former truck driver and metro Denver police officer, she’s acknowledged to King (at 31:29 here) her infatuation with fictional TV detective David Starsky. That May 3 episode culminated with a surprise appearance by Starsky actor Paul Michael Glaser, to whom Linda Stanley promptly and hilariously proposed marriage (at 39:00 mark).
Two days later, Stanley had Morphew arrested pursuant to a lengthy arrest warrant not yet unsealed. Two weeks ago, Stanley revealed on Profiling Evil (here at 38:40) she’d have preferred utilizing a Morphew grand jury, but for the pandemic.
Normally, defense attorneys ponder what prosecutors are thinking, but in this Morphew case, there’s considerable transparency. Flip on your screens and form your own conclusions. This Morphew case will be aggressively litigated and will be well worth watching.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C. and is host of The Craig Silverman Show podcast.
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