- Aug 3, 2019
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Thanks for the refresher Seattle1.Posting @NoSI PH notes as a refresher -- and answers to many questions.
Still Missing - CO - Suzanne Morphew, 49, Chaffee Co, 10 May 2020 *arrest* #83
OK, I finally typed up my notes from the hearing on September 17, 2021 in Salida. Please let me know if you have any questions.
September 17, 2021
1:50 PM – BM brought in, he has a big white envelope in his hand. He sits down next to his attorneys IE and TN. The PI is also present and an attorney named Shawn Connolly. IE talks to BM. In response, BM immediately puts his glasses on and looks at a laptop screen. He then nodded and closed the laptop.
1:52 PM – Judge Murphy entered the courtroom.
Prosecution has Mr. Edwards, an attorney, present.
Judge informed that both parties filed their briefs on time. Judge Murphy makes it known that he wants to be done by 5 PM today. The prosecution and defense each have 20 minutes for arguments.
Prosecution makes it known that they would like to divide the two topics “law” and “facts” between Mr. Lindsey and Mr. Edwards, the attorney.
Prosecution will go first.
Mr. Edwards lays out the law – Probable cause is met. Bail should be denied as Mr. Morphew is charged with 1st degree murder. The evidence has to be looked upon most favorable to the prosecution in the preliminary hearing. This case cannot be compared to cases in other jurisdictions. “Inference on inference” is valid (Inference on inference rule is a principle that when an inference is based on a fact, that fact must be clearly established and if the existence of such a fact depends upon a prior inference no subsequent inferences can legitimately be based upon it).
Mr. Lindsey lays out the facts –
May 6, 2020: This is when the “path to murder” started and it was a drawn out process. Mr. Morphew was clear that divorce “is not going to happen”. He blamed a mountain lion. The chilling statement of “we love each other to death” was made. SM took the leap and made it known that she was done with her marriage to Mr. Morphew.
May 10, 2020: Macy sent a message to her BF “I am just sad. Dad and mom probably got into a big fight” when she didn’t receive replies to messages. BM ended up deleting texts and hit evidence of marital strife. He was gaslighting Suzanne. Lots of God talk. Through texts between Suzanne and her friend SO it was learned that BM had to always be the victim and Suzanne had to be the “bad guy”. Suzanne has been on trial this entire preliminary hearing. Don’t be fooled… This is a “domestic violence homicide/intimate partner homicide”. BM was clear that “marriage is for life”. He knew he lost her when she stopped responding to his self-harm texts.
May 8, 2020: Suzanne uploaded a list of grievances consisting of 50 reasons why she needed to end this marriage. She had sent a text to her sister informing that BM treated her with “harsh abrasiveness” and that there was abuse.
9:30 AM – Phone calls between SM and BM totaling 26 minutes & 40 seconds. Suzanne is going over her list of grievances. This was “the day of reckoning” and the day of “we are done”. Barry responded to this by saying “I love you Suzanne”.
May 8, 2020 & May 9, 2020: Days of civility between Suzanne and BM. BM asked Suzanne to come by his worksite. But don’t be fooled, BM is tricking Suzanne. There was hiking and there was Moonlight Pizza. Suzanne started to embrace her new life without BM. She was not allowed to have male Facebook friends, but on the evening of May 8, 2020 this changed. She sent friend requests to >20 people, including males.
May 9, 2020: 59 communications between BM and Suzanne. BM is talking about moving to Arizona. There is talk about selling Puma Path.
9:33 AM – Suzanne sent a text to BM informing him that 5621 King Gulch Trail in Salida is on the market.
As per Mr. Lindsey, “there was an air of civility to the conversations”
9:50 AM – BM to Suzanne “Want to go hiking”, Suzanne to BM “Where?”
10:48 AM – BM tells Suzanne that he will come home. Suzanne asks BM to get hot tub stuff.
BM was used to “observe and hunt” at Puma Path. At 11:27 AM – 1 PM, BM was removing all wildlife cameras on the property.
2:03 PM – Suzanne forwarded a selfie to JL. This constitutes the last photo that she sent.
2:11 PM – Message from Suzanne to JL “I am on What’s App”. This was Suzanne’s last communication with anyone.
2:43 PM – BM in garage and loading syringes. Puts the cap in the pocket of his shorts. Places his phone in airplane mode.
He is preventing to let Suzanne get to her/the phone and sustains defensive wounds.
His mistake was the “needle sheath”. When he was pressed by LE about this, stated “I don’t recall”.
Yes, there is no body…
And no single pivotal piece of evidence…
The tranquilizer was on the workbench in the garage… BM said so.
A staged bike, ghost ridden off the site of the hill, no damage, no blood…
BM then staged the helmet, 1.7 miles away, he turned left when he should have turned right…
Suzanne never rode her bike without her camelback and sunglasses. They were found in her vehicle/vehicles…
5 trash runs, BM is getting rid of evidence, including tranquilizer supplies. An expert told us that she would continue to be on her feet for 2-5 minutes before being down after she was injected with the tranquilizer solution. She would then experience hypoxia. A sign of that would be light snoring. BM stated that Suzanne was lightly snoring when he left her in the morning.
“I am done”. Those are prophetic words by Suzanne…
Defense is next.
Mr. Connolly – The Prosecution has failed. Clear and simple. They have changed their story 180 degrees in context of the Facebook friend requests. There is no physical evidence, no confession, no witnesses. This cannot go to trial. Mr. Connolly discussed several cases including the “Fisher, Michigan case” and “Charles Manson” case. Is there probable cause? No. Evidence does not hold up to adversarial testing. Plausibility is an issue. No clear and convincing evidence. Motive? Not proven, it is all speculation. Opportunity? Not proven. There is no evidence of domestic violence and no evidence of Suzanne being scared of BM.
2:44 PM – BM returns to Puma Path after looking at a backhoe part and having a new skid steer blade installed. Cell service remains a “mystery”.
2:44 PM – 2:47 PM – All hell has broken loose if you believe the Prosecution. Physically impossible to travel at speed the Prosecution has theorized. A 22 dart gun does not exist.
How has Suzanne been killed? How has she been disposed of? No DNA.
May 10, 2020 – The ground is still frozen. How would BM have buried Suzanne?
The Prosecution was result focused and not based on trying to find out what really happened. They attempted to trap Mr. Morphew into admission.
The 10 reasons why Mr. Morphew is innocent:
1.) The DNA in the glove box of Suzanne’s car was connected to 3 unsolved sex assaults.
2.) The trip to Salida Stove & Spa accounts for the missing 18 miles on Saturday afternoon.
3.) Did anyone ever blame JL? No. JL informed LE that he dropped his phone and got a new one. It was a work phone. Did LE confirm this with JLs employer? No. This was not part of the 180 search warrants that were served and executed.
4.) At first, Prosecution had us believe that BM hacked Suzanne’s phone and sent the friend requests on May 8th. Today this story changed fundamentally …
5.) Mallory’s sheets – Why would Suzanne have washed them? Maybe because this was written on her to-do list?
6.) Needle sheet/tranquilizer cap had SMs DNA on it, not BMs.
7.) BMs hotel room smelled of chlorine? Could that have been related to his room being directly over the indoor pool?
8.) ½ cup of coffee on the kitchen counter – It was established that Suzanne likes to drink coffee every morning. BM does not.
9.) BM searched hundreds of hours for Suzanne. Did he get any credit for this? No, because he can’t win.
10.) Last page of warrant – The AA ends with a “metaphor; an ugly metaphor”.
Is the evidence clear and strong? No, it is “muddy and weak”. STOP THIS CASE NOW OR AT LEAST AUTHORIZE BAIL.
Judge Murphy is next.
Judge Murphy speaks about corpus delicti.
There is no Colorado case law for no body cases. However, a recovered body is not required. We can use the trustworthiness standard and use other reliable and trustworthy evidence to support the conclusion.
Judge Murphy states “I can find it” (in context of probable cause).
Did the perpetrator commit the offence? It would be a reasonable conclusion.
Judge Murphy informs that he has to be favorable to the evidence that was presented by the Prosecution. He reminds that there are relaxed evidence criteria during the preliminary hearing.
He concludes that there is “reasonable belief that Mr. Morphew may have committed the offense”.
He continuous that it is well-established that this was not a happy marriage. Suzanne told JL that she is unhappy, wants a divorce from Mr. Morphew, and wants to marry JL.
Could an awareness of the affair be a motive? There would naturally be hurt, anger, desperation, and anger. It could be concluded that the person would want to “harm the person who harmed them”.
May 6, 2020 – Suzanne stated that she wanted a divorce. BM reacted emotionally charged. It can be concluded that Suzanne referred to her marriage when she stated “I am done”. Suzanne told JL that the “next few days will be rough”. It can be concluded that BM may have decided to kill Suzanne when she told him that she wants a divorce (or when he found out that she had an affair).
BM talked about suicide and meeting his savior. Judge Murphy states that “emotional, desperate people may not act rationally”.
No body, no crime? – Suzanne has not been seen or heard of since May 9, 2020. Suzanne’s camelback and sunglasses were found in her vehicle/vehicles. She would not ride her bike without them. Suzanne had been a stay-at-home mom for many years. No income. Her inheritance was used to buy Puma Path and to invest in silver. On May 21st, BM stated that he was Suzanne’s ATM. Suzanne would always have her bible, journal, and her courage to change book together and nearby. Her journal was never found and is missing. However, there was something resembling the binding of a book burned in the fireplace of Puma Path. Her driver’s license, credit card, and purse were left behind. She was known to be a “dedicated and caring mother”. She had communicated to her friend “once Macy is gone, I won’t be able to do it”. She was close to family and friends. She used her phone a lot and then all of a sudden stopped using it altogether in the afternoon of May 9, 2020 at 2:11 PM. The last message went to JL and consisted of “I am on What’s App”. On May 10, 2020, Suzanne’s phone pinged off the Poncha Springs cell tower and then no activity ever again. Suzanne had described BM’s personality as “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. There are reports that BM physically hurt Suzanne. The doorframe to the master bedroom at Puma Path was broken. Experts informed that this would have happened if someone forced the door open until it broke. In the Fall of 2018, Sheila Oliver was visiting Suzanne at Puma Path. There was a suspicious car coming up the road to Puma Path. The car turned off the headlights and someone was peeping and spying into the house. This ended up being BM. Suzanne considered taking out a restraining order against BM. BM arrived at Puma Path at 2:44 PM on May 9, 2020. From 2:44 PM – 2:47 PM, he was located outside the home. The phone went into airplane mode at 2:47 PM and did not come out of airplane mode until 10:17 PM. Where was BM and what was he doing? As per Agent Grusing, BM may have shot Suzanne with a tranquilizer dart and chased her around the property until the tranquilizer took effect. He explained the available phone activity as shooting chipmunks with a 22 rifle. Between 3:25 AM – 3:52 AM on May 10th, there were several telematics truck actions, including door events. At 3:58 AM, the truck appeared to have moved towards 225 where Suzanne’s bike was staged. BMs phone came out of airplane mode at 5:37 AM. BM has changed his story many times during the investigative period and Judge Murphy concludes from this that BM “is not truthful”.
Bike helmet – Was located 0.84 miles towards Monarch on US50. It was not damaged, just tossed on the side of the road. BM stated that he turned left at the intersection of 225 and US50 after 10 months of investigation. He explains this by stating that he followed a bull elk to salvage his antlers. However, there are no antlers in May. It would have also been pitch black. He also did not turn around until the Garfield turnaround, which is 3 miles down US50. There is no legitimate reason why BM was in this area at that time as per Judge Murphy.
Changing statements/leaving out information – Again, Judge Murphy concludes that this is evidence of untruthfulness. Judge Murphy gives examples of this:
- July 8th interview: BM left out a 40-minute stop at Men’s Warehouse, which was one of the five (5) trash run locations. The other locations of the trash runs included the RDT bus stop, south side of the hotel, McDonald, and the hotel again. There is evidence that BM threw away “boots, a camo jacket, and possibly tranquilizer equipment”.
- BM engaged in strange behaviors. Judge Murphy can explain this by BM “disposing of evidence of a crime”.
- The wall: The wall project was to start on May 11, 2020. Supplies needed included the skid steer, gravel, and bricks.BM would have known that the City of Broomfield does not allow work on Sundays. Necessary supplies were not available. Based on surveillance etc., BM spent his time in the hotel room from 12:42 pm to 5:55 pm. BM was to pick up MG in the afternoon of May 10, 2020, but then left her behind in Salida. Something must have happened to alter his plans. It could be concluded that BM tried to “get away from Puma Path, establish an alibi, and dispose of evidence”.
As per Judge Murphy, probable cause is established for Count 1 and Count 2 based on the above.
Can’t authorize bail in capital cases. Proof evident. Presumption great.
Clear, strong evidence while leads a well-grounded dispassionate judgment to the conclusion that the offense has been committed as charged, that the accused is the guilty agent and that he will probably be punished capitally if the law is administered
Exists when the circumstances testified to are such that the inference of guilt naturally to be drawn therefrom is strong, clear and convincing unbiased judgment and excludes all reasonable probability of any other conclusion
Is there clear and convincing evidence for proof evident?
For bail to be denied, there must be a fair likelihood that the perpetrator will be convicted of the offense.
Judge Murphy believes that this case can go either way.
May 9, 2020 at 2:11 PM, why did Suzanne not reply to JL? BM did not return to Puma Path until 2:43 PM.
Both daughters stated that they never witnessed physical abuse between BM and Suzanne. Miles Harvey stated that BM and Suzanne “fight like other couples”.
The Ritters’, neighbors of BM and Suzanne, did not hear anything indicating a disturbance or signs of distress on May 9, 2020.
There is no direct evidence linking BM to Suzanne’s disappearance.
There is no forensic evidence, such as DNA or blood, linking BM to Suzanne’s disappearance.
Is it possible that BM murdered Suzanne? Yes, it is.
Is it possible that someone unknown took Suzanne? Yes, it is possible. (DNA in glove box, COTIS, sex assaults in AZ and IL).
Is it possible that Suzanne voluntarily disappeared? Unlikely, but possible.
The DNA in the glove box is “particularly significant” and could indicate that someone other than BM killed Suzanne.
Therefore, bond must be authorized.
Court breaks at 3:35 PM.
Mr. Lindsey/Prosecution is next.
3:47 PM: Mr. Lindsey states that if bond is authorized, he recommends 10 Million Dollars, cash only. He estimates that BM has 3 Million Dollars liquid and available to him. There is evidence that BM has been hiding funds from Suzanne. He has no residence in Chaffee County and no longer has ties to the community. Puma Path sold for 1.7 Million Dollars. He has several brokerage accounts and owns silver. Mr. Lindsey stresses that BM committed 1st degree murder and “deliberately and intentionally killed his wife”. There are many that fear for their safety if BM is released on bail. There needs to be a protection order if BM is released on bail. There is evidence that money has been moved around within BMs family. Family has brought books to BM in the jail including about how to survive in nature and what plants are edible. There is danger that BM may flee. Mr. Lindsey also requests that BM is outfitted with an electronic GPS ankle monitor, pretrial services, and that he has to give up his firearms.
Judge Murphy asked about BMs criminal history in Indiana.
Mr. Lindsey replies that BM only has a history of one charge for disorderly conduct, which was dismissed.
Ms. Eytan/Defense is next.
Bail must be authorized. BMs daughters “can’t wait to hug their father and be near him”. BM intends to live near his daughters. He will be in court answering to these charges. He never threatened anyone in the community. No, he actually invited LE to have steak with him. BM wants to grief with his daughters because “nobody can find his wife”. Defense requests a $ 50,000 cash bond. BM is a “hardworking man” and you cannot paralyze him with a high bond, Judge. He was incarcerated for 3 ½ months, wrongly defamed, and made a spectacle off all over the world. He will turn in his passport, is in agreement with the protection order, a reasonable bond, and will live in Gunnison near his daughter/daughters.
Judge Murphy states that BM has to reside in Chaffee County.
Ms. Eytan states that BM is a public spectacle in Chaffee County. BM wants to live in Gunnison County to be close to his daughter/daughters.
Judge Murphy states that BM faces life without parole, if sentenced. He has no criminal history. Was in the community for 10 months during the investigation prior to being arrested. He has friends in Chaffee County. Judge Murphy states “10 Million is too high, 50,000 too low, we need to be in the middle”.
Judge Murphy rules that bond is set at $ 500,000.00 cash only. There will be no contact with certain people. There will be no harassing of witnesses. There will be no travel. BM has to reside in Chaffee County. Judge Murphy states “I want you here in Chaffee County so I know you are close by”. BM will wear an ankle monitor. Bond cannot be posted until Monday, 9/19, at noon. BM is not allowed to own any weapons.
Probable cause on counts 3, 4, and 5?
Count 3 – Judge Murphy finds probable cause
Count 4 – Judge Murphy finds probable cause. No objection by Defense.
Count 5 – Judge Murphy finds probable cause.
Judge Murphy asks Prosecution if they continue to feel “neutral” in regards to the release of AA to the public. Mr Lindsey confirms that they do.
Defense wants to keep the AA sealed as releasing it would jeopardize BMs right to a fair trial. Release would increase the risk of a “tainted” jury pool d/t the “massive amount” of discovery. The defense needs to continue investigating and interview witnesses.
Judge Murphy shares information on Rule 55.1 that was called into law in May 2021. It calls for not limiting public access without a reason. The AA was sealed initially because it contains detail on the investigative effort and “inappropriate information” that is not admissible. The community has given this case an “unusual amount of attention”. The AA was also sealed to protect the Morphew children. Some retractions were made. Things have changed d/t this preliminary hearing and Judge Murphy can no longer seal the AA.
The AA will be posted on the court website by noon on Monday, 9/19.
The Defense asks if a defense retracted version of the AA can be posted instead. Judge Murphy denies this request.
Ms. Eytan would like to set date for the trial.
Mr. Lindsey expects the trial to last approximately 4 weeks.
Ms. Eytan proposes May 2022.
Judge Murphy decides on May 3 through June 1, 2022
BM will enter a “no guilty” please today.
BM waives his right for a speedy trial.
D22 was filed yesterday afternoon. Judge Murphy has not looked at it. This motion is in regards to a “gag order on prosecution until the case is tried”.
Judge Murphy is not ruling on this today.
The two outstanding motions will be addressed on November 9, 2021 from 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM.
Court is adjourned.