Suzanne Morphew is still missing, but the case still haunts attorneys on both sides.
Nearly a year to the day since the case became the 49-year-old Maysville mother’s disappearance was dismissed, her husband’s attorney has filed a complaint against the prosecution team for going after Suzanne’s husband, Barry Morphew, with what she called “suspicion vision. ”
Iris Eytan believes Morphew — once seen as a condemned man — is 100% innocent, was wrongly accused and then railroaded through the system.
She is asking the state Office of the Attorney Regulation Council to investigate the 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley and the six other members of the Morphew prosecution team. The complaint recommends they be disbarred or severely disciplined for alleged ethical violations she believes were rampant as the case unfolded.
The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel website showed that Stanley’s law license is active, although several other complaints against her office may result in investigations.
Tuesday, Eytan called a press conference to publicly lay out what she perceived as twelve ethical violations by Stanley’s team, including withholding and concealing evidence favorable to the defense, lying in court and giving interviews on local television and YouTube even before the judge ruled probable cause there was to send Morphew to trial.
In a press release, Stanley was punched back.
She noted that the fact that Eytan said she was filing a complaint “is not equivalent to the attorney engaging in any misconduct.”
Stanley expressed disappointment that: “Ms. Eytan appears to be seeking to circumvent the procedures in place that protects due process by holding a press conference before any official action has taken place.”
Her prosecution team never “willfully or purposely withhold evidence in any case,” Stanley said.
Jessica Yates with the OARC confirmed that her office is in possession of Eytan’s complaint.
Eytan’s allegations are the latest in a string of unfortunate incidents regarding the notorious case of the missing Maysville, Colorado woman. The prosecutor has been through a number of attorneys, some who were borrowed from other firms or agencies, and others who joined the team as special prosecutors.
Courtroom gamesmanship from the defense held up the process at times and got to the point where one day, Deputy District Attorney Mark Hurlbert pulled himself away from the podium where he was making an argument, shaking his head in frustration.
Suzanne Morphew, 49, went missing from her remote mountain home, about a 15-minute drive west of Salida, sometime between May 9 and 10, 2020. Thousands of people turned out to look for her on horseback, on foot and in the streams and rivers.
Barry Morphew, was arrested nearly a year later, May 5, 2021, on suspicion of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in her disappearance.
The following September, after a four-day August preliminary hearing, Colorado 11th Judicial District Judge Patrick Murphy ruled there was enough probable cause to take the case to trial. After a five-month COVID-ridden jail stay, Morphew was released on a $500,000 cash-only bail and walked into the arms of his adult daughters, to await trial.
Mallory and Macy Morphew were in court every day and still supported him.
In a twist to an already bizarre case, the district’s chief judge later removed himself from the case after the defense complained of a longtime friendship Patrick Murphy had with the attorney of Morphew’s girlfriend.
The case was eventually moved to Fremont County and assigned a new judge for the final months leading up to trial.
Then, in a surprise move just days before jury selection, prosecutors scrapped the high-profile case for lack of evidence. Specifically, investigators had not found Suzanne Morphew’s body. The date was April 19, 2022.
Eleventh Judicial District Judge Ramsey Lama granted the prosecution’s motion with prejudice, meaning the case can be refiled if Mrs. Morphew is found.
Eytan told reporters that Barry Morphew and the couple’s two daughters also wanted to know what happened to their wife and mother.
Eytan had a message for Stanley.
“Find Suzanne,” said Eytan. “Do your job. My client was held for five months in a cage based on information that wasn’t true.”
Eytan said she 100% believes that Barry Morphew is innocent in his wife’s disappearance and would not divulge what the 56-year-old is doing now, saying only that the family needs a rest from public scrutiny.
PEP: Protect ethical prosecutors
Eytan believes the Morphew case is a perfect example of an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct which she believes is sweeping the country.
After 30 years as a criminal defense attorney, Eytan has started a non-profit called “Protect Ethical Prosecutors.” In one of the group’s inaugural moves, she hopes to create legislation in Colorado in 2024 which would make it possible to sue prosecutors personally.
Her prospective prosecutors are seen as white knights and are rarely questioned.
“They have no skin in the game so why would they stop?” said Eytan.
Where is Suzanne Morphew?
Chaffee County Sheriff Chief John Spezze, one of the original investigators in the case, told The Denver Gazette that the search for Suzanne Morphew is still open and active.
In a conversation with The Denver Gazette, her older sister, Melinda Moorman Balzer, said that she prays every day for Suzanne’s remains to be found.
“I stand with the appointed people who are the authorities including John Spezze and the DA team who has been designated for now,” said Balzer.
Prosecutors have said in court that they believe Morphew killed his wife and hid her body in one of the many wells which dot the area of Maysville near the remote mountain home where the couple lived.
Leading up to the day she went missing, the couple had been arguing, according to court testimony, and Mrs. Morphew had taken a lover. Messages between Suzanne Morphew and Jeff Libler were read in court and the last picture she sent to her former high school crush on the early afternoon of May 9 was the final indication of proof that she was alive.
Despite that fact, Barry Morphew told investigators that he and his wife were getting along and spent a romantic evening together the night of May 9. He said he last saw her at five the next morning, Mother’s Day May 10, soundly sleeping in their bedroom as he left for a nearly three-hour drive from Maysville to Broomfield to do a landscaping job. That day, a neighbor reported that Suzanne Morphew was missing and her bike was not in the garage leading investigators to initially believe that she had gone for a ride and vanished.
Eytan has maintained the prosecution team investigating Morphew never looked at anyone else but him, although she contends that there were several possible alternate suspects.
May 10 will mark three years since Suzanne Morphew was reported missing. May 13, locals will hold a memorial for her at the Poncha Springs Town Hall. Through the months, Melinda Moorman Balzer has learned she has no control over her sister’s return.
“Everything is in God’s time, not my time,” she said. “So we wait.”