Judge dismisses murder case against Colorado man as weather hampers search for wife's body
By Rebekah Riess and Dakin Andone, CNN
(CNN) -- The trial of a Colorado man accused in the disappearance and death of his wife has been scrapped after prosecutors moved to dismiss the case while they continued the search for her body.
Fremont County District Judge Ramsey Lama on Tuesday granted their motion -- meaning charges can be refiled against Barry Morphew at a later date.
Morphew was charged with first-degree murder last May in connection with the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew a year prior. The 49-year-old was reported missing by a neighbor after she went for a bike ride near Maysville and never returned. Investigators have said they believe she is dead.
Barry Morphew also faced charges of tampering with a deceased human body, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous weapon and attempting to influence a public servant, court records show. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to a motion filed Tuesday by the 11th Judicial District Attorney's Office, prosecutors hoped the search for and discovery of Suzanne Morphew's body would be complete "well before" her husband's trial, which was scheduled to begin April 28.
However, the weather "complicated the efforts," the motion said, adding a "significant amount of snow" covered the area authorities are focused on -- a "remote and mountainous region" near the couple's home -- over the winter months, and before the search was finished.
"To date, the area has 5 feet of snow concealing the location where the People believe Ms. Morphew is located," the motion stated, referring to the prosecutors. "As a result, the People cannot safely excavate this area."
Prosecutors believe "we are close to locating the deceased victim's body," the motion said. But they are responsible for seeking the truth and ensuring equal justice, prosecutors wrote, not just securing a conviction.
"In typical homicide cases, the fact of the victim's death is rarely at issue," it said, "but in a case such as this, the most influential fact of consequence is whether or not Ms. Morphew is deceased."
As a result, prosecutors asked the case be dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could still pursue charges against Morphew in the future.
"This dismissal is in the best interests of justice, the People, and Defendant, and the public," they said.
Barry Morphew "is as innocent today as he was when (Suzanne Morphew) disappeared," his attorney, Iris Eytan, told CNN in a statement, saying he was arrested without authorities having completed a full investigation.
"The DA's office is no closer to having any answers today than they were in 2021, other than Mr. Morphew is not responsible for his wife's disappearance," Eytan said. "Barry and his daughters hope that law enforcement will finally dedicate all their resources to finding his wife and their mother whom they love and miss."
CNN has reached out to the 11th Judicial District Attorney's Office for comment.
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