Prosecutors have obtained a so-called “spy pen” as evidence against alleged Colorado wife killer Barry Morphew.
That detail emerged in a hearing Thursday in Morphew’s case. The 53-year-old defendant is accused of murdering his wife Suzanne Morphew, 49, who was reported missing by a neighbor on Mother’s Day in 2020. Barry Morphew pleaded for information about his wife’s disappearance in a widely publicized video message before he was ultimately charged with first-degree murder in Chaffee County, Colo., where the case against him remains pending.
The multi-issue Thursday hearing resulted in the announcement of several new details in the case tight-lipped prosecutors are building against the husband-turned-defendant. According to a Fox News report, the upshot of the hearing was that Morphew was denied bond.
Defense attorneys complained during the proceeding that prosecutors have not promptly turned over all of the necessary discovery materials currently held by state and federal authorities. Or, in some cases, where files have been turned over, the digital data did nothing more than provide an error message on defense computers when Morphew’s attorneys attempted to review the evidence.
The defense has asked that Morphew’s first-degree murder charge should be dropped to second-degree murder.
“It is unfair that Mr. Morphew is sitting in jail being held hostage when there is no physical evidence that a murder has occurred,” defense attorney Iris Eytan told Judge Patrick William Murphy, according to the Fox News report. The report explains in slightly more detail:
Murphy ordered prosecutors to provide enhanced audio from the spy pen, surveillance footage, photos and data from laptops and an Amazon Kindle e-reader within seven days. Prosecutors said they plan to call more than a dozen witnesses at trial.
Elsewhere, the report notes that the “laptops” included both an HP laptop and an Apple laptop “recovered from Barry’s home.” Phone data from Suzanne’s iCloud account is also among the state’s reported cache. The evidence is said to add up to approximately one terabyte of data — and the defense balked that it was handed over this week, rather than by a June 2nd deadline.
The “spy pen” itself is alleged to have contained audio of Suzanne “talking to a man on the phone.” According to a report from Colorado Springs FOX affiliate KXRM-TV, Eytan said the raw file was “very hard to hear.” Eytan noted that “other recorded messages from the same individual, which she said were extremely critical to the case,” also exist. An FBI-enhanced version of the audio also reportedly exists.
That’s a rough sketch of the type of evidence prosecutors have in their possession and what the defense wants to obtain. Prosecutors “will rely heavily on hotel surveillance video and photographs taken by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation,” Fox News said; the secondary evidence is necessary because prosecutors have not found a body.
Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley said defense attorneys were unnecessarily vilifying her office.
“The statement of we’ve had all this discovery for a year, is just not true,” Stanley reportedly said in court. “I understand our obligation of discovery.”
She added that her office has had dozens of conversations with the defense to try to get materials handed over as quickly as possible.
Stanley admitted that some of the files may have been copied incorrectly when provided to the defense. The defense continued to accuse her office of delay tactics as both sides look toward a four-day preliminary hearing which could involve as many as eighteen witnesses, KXRM reported.
KXRM said Judge Murphy also ruled that “the prosecution did violate his orders on handing over all of the evidence in June,” but he decided to “giv[e] the state seven days to hand over evidence that the defense said they never received, including the FBI-enhanced audio of the spy pen recordings.”
According to court records, Morphew’s 130-page arrest warrant affidavit remains sealed despite attempts by news organizations to view it. Judge Murphy said it contained information that might be inadmissible at trial; he also said sealing the information was necessary under state law to protect the alleged victim’s daughters.
Read Morphew’s charging document below:
Read the judge’s order to limit access to Morphew’s lengthy arrest warrant here:
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