DENVER (AP) — An arrest warrant affidavit for a Colorado man charged with murder in the death of his wife who disappeared last year will remain sealed, a judge ruled Friday, saying that release of the document could harm the couple's daughters and witnesses in the case and hinder Barry Morphew's ability to prepare his own defense.
Chaffee County District Court Judge Patrick Murphy ordered that the affidavit, which details investigators' reasons justifying Morphew's arrest in the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, remain sealed until the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in August.
A coalition of news media organizations, including The Associated Press, had petitioned the court for release of the 130-page document, arguing in part that the public has a presumptive right to know what led to Morphew's May 5 arrest.
According to prosecutors, Morphew, 53, is accused of killing his 49-year-old wife sometime between May 9 and May 10, 2020. The mother of two daughters was reported missing on May 10, 2020, which was Mother’s Day.
Prosecutors say Morphew tampered with her body around that time and tampered with other evidence in the case from last May through early March, about two months before he was arrested.
“While the investigation in this matter has been ongoing for a little over a year now, it consists of numerous witnesses and circumstantial evidence. Thus, witness credibility will be at a premium,” Murphy wrote in his order.
Barry Morphew had posted a video on social media pleading for his wife’s return soon after she vanished.
He was arrested near his home in Poncha Springs, a small community in southern Colorado. At the time, authorities said they had failed to find Suzanne Morphew’s body.
Morphew also has been charged with possessing a short rifle, a banned weapon in Colorado, and with trying to influence eight public servants, at least some of whom are law enforcement officers, “by means of deceit” from the time his wife disappeared until he was arrested.
Morphew is represented by state public defenders who do not comment to the news media on cases.
Authorities also have charged Morphew with submitting a fraudulent vote on his wife’s behalf for then-President Donald Trump in November’s election.