A Colorado judge ruled last week that the lengthy arrest affidavit for Barry Morphew, who is charged with murdering his wife Suzanne, will remain sealed, according to a freedom of information group in the Centennial State.
The decision comes after numerous news outlets filed a request to be able to see the 130-page document.
The media consortium includes the Associated Press, the Denver Post, Fox affiliates KDVR-TV and KXRM-TV as well as a half-dozen other outlets, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeffrey Roberts wrote on his organization’s website Wednesday.
“The Media Consortium questions the legitimacy of denying public access to the entire Affidavit based upon the length and details contained within it and also questions the likelihood that this information can’t be redacted,” District Court Judge Patrick W. Murphy wrote in an order published to the CFOIC site. “However, it wasn’t merely the details and length of the Affidavit that resulted in the Court’s decision to restrict public access.”
Murphy explained that he wanted to give more time to both prosecutors and the defense team to offer input on what to redact from the affidavit before allowing its release – especially since the Morphews have daughters.
Steve Zansberg, a media lawyer and president of the CFOIC, had argued that the media and public have a “presumptive right” to see the affidavit.
Arrest affidavits generally contain much greater detail than what is released in investigators’ statements to the media, providing insights into possible motives, specifics of the crime and a timeline of events. They include firsthand accounts from detectives, witness statements and other key information – sometimes even photographic evidence.
Although Morphew’s affidavit remains secret, District Attorney Linda Stanley said in May that her office and investigators felt they have gathered enough to charge him with a slew of felonies.
Suzanne Morphew was reported missing on May 10, 2020 – Mother’s Day – after she was believed to have gone out for a bike ride. Chaffee County prosecutors said they believe she had been killed that day or the day prior. Police found her bicycle on a trail near her home in Salida, Colo.
On May 19, Chaffee County prosecutors added two felonies, tampering with a deceased human body and possession of a dangerous weapon, to his previous list of charges: first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with physical evidence and attempt to influence a public servant.
The only information provided regarding the pair of new charges were outlined in an amended complaint released on May 19. Regarding the weapon possession charge, court papers allege Morphew possessed a short rifle “between and including May 9, 2020 and March 4, 2021.”
As for the charge of tampering with a deceased human body, Morphew “destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed, or altered a human body, part of a human body, or human remains with intent to impair its or their appearance or availability,” court papers state. Morphew did so between May 9, 2020 and May 10, 2020, “believing that an official proceeding was pending, in progress, or about to be instituted, and acting without legal right or authority,” the document states.
Morphew is due back in court for a virtual hearing at 1 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.
Colorado judge orders Barry Morphew arrest affidavit to remain sealed in slaying of wife Suzanne Morphew