The attorney representing a Colorado man once charged with the disappearance and murder of his wife wants the district attorney and prosecutors who targeted him to be investigated for ethics violations.
Barry Morphew’s wife, Suzanne Morphew, disappeared on a bike ride on Mother’s Day in 2020. She has not been seen or heard from since. Her husband was arrested in May 2021 on charges related to his alleged death, including first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and attempting to influence a public official.
Last April, the judge handling the case dropped the case against Barry Morphew – at the request of prosecutors – even as law enforcement claimed they were ‘close’ to finding his body .
This was apparently not true – and several other issues with the Morphew investigation arose throughout the process leading to the dismissal of the charges against her husband.
More Law&Crime coverage: ‘I love my wife and I want her found’: Colorado husband Barry Morphew speaks out after state drops murder case against him
On March 29, Morphew’s attorney, Iris Eytan, filed an 83-page complaint with the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation asking that 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley and other prosecutors who worked on her client’s case investigated and ultimately punished.
“Instead of upholding their special ethical prosecutorial obligations to protect the presumption of innocence and to preserve and enhance the integrity and high standards of the bar, these prosecutors have been unreliable and have pursued a consistent political agenda. to lock up Mr. Morphew in response to a media frenzy that prosecutors themselves helped create and perpetuate,” the filing alleges.
According to the disciplinary complaint, the prosecutor’s office “excused evidence of innocence, concealed favorable evidence, fabricated evidence and opinions, and permitted witnesses to testify falsely.”
“The judges overseeing the case identified prosecutors’ numerous gross violations of court orders and discovery rules, including providing false information to the court,” the complaint continues. “After numerous judicial admonitions spanning nine months, the prosecution has done nothing to correct, remedy or alter its conduct.”
Earlier last April, despite reprimands from prosecutors and other law enforcement for ‘consistent’ discovery violations, District Court Judge Ramsey Lama refused to dismiss the case at the request of the defense .
But, in a 20-page long document reprimanding the prosecution, the judge noted that highly relevant DNA evidence had essentially been withheld from the defense and at various hearings.
It turned out that this DNA belonged to an unknown man, was definitely not Barry Morphew’s and was found on several items at the crime scene – including the bike, bike helmet and interior of his car from Suzanne Morphew, according to state forensic analysis from the crime lab, Lama noted.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) agent Joseph Cahill believed the DNA found in the car “belonged to suspects who may have committed the crime,” the judge noted. In addition to this, the DNA appeared in CODIS, a national DNA database maintained by the FBI.
“Notably, as of May 4, 2021, law enforcement has yet to determine the source of the unknown male DNA found at the crime scene,” Lama wrote. “The affidavit did not inform the judge of said DNA and that Barry Morphew was excluded as a source.”
Of the complaint, in detail:
The truth about the DNA evidence was only revealed after numerous hearings and court orders to turn over evidence favorable to the defense. Evidence that had been withheld by prosecutors before preliminary hearings slowly came to light over the following months, after critical preliminary hearings and after Mr Morphew was locked in a jail cell for five months. The hidden evidence was highly exculpatory: As early as December 2020 – five months before Mr. Morphew was arrested – the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement learned that unknown male DNA recovered from Suzanne’s vehicle matched that of unsolved sexual offenses across the country. This highly exculpatory information was covered up, not included in the arrest warrant affidavit, hidden from the judge who signed the arrest warrant, and not mentioned by the prosecution during the preliminary hearings.
The document also claims prosecutors told “lies” that “became the legend and lore of the case”, prompting law enforcement to pursue theories they knew were wrong.
And the document claims that the prosecutor’s office did all of this voluntarily.
“[T]The real threat to the public remains as long as they are able to continue the practice of law without any significant discipline,” the complaint states. “It’s not a series of errors or mistakes; there were too many not to be intentional, willful, and/or a conscious pattern of discovery and ethical violations. These prosecutors still believe they did nothing wrong. They will continue to violate their ethical obligations, to harm other people, until and unless the [Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel] discipline them.
The filing advises investigators to “severely” discipline law enforcement involved in the Morphew case.
“We are confident that there is absolute proof that District Attorney-elect Linda Stanley, her then Chief Investigator Alex Walker, Chief Deputy Jeffrey Lindsey, Aaron Pembleton and all subsequent deputies been hired or contracted to engage in the prosecution of this case (including Assistant District Attorneys Mark Hurlbert, Robert Weiner, Daniel Edwards, and Grant Grosgebauer) committed ethical violations warranting harsh discipline and disbarment,” alleges the folder. “This type of unethical conduct cannot go unpunished in this state or country.”
On Tuesday, Eytan held a press conference, criticizing the prosecutors in the case in ever harsher terms.
“He was held for five months in a cage based on information that was not true,” Eytan said. “She has a more powerful license to practice law than most other individuals in the country, she should answer for it. So yeah, I don’t think she should have the right to sue other human beings.
In response, Stanley complained that Eytan held a press conference before her office received the notice of complaint.
“All individuals, whether facing a potential complaint against their professional license or facing criminal charges, are entitled to due process,” the DA told Denver-based Fox affiliate KDVR. “Because we have no information about the complaint alleged by Ms Eytan, we cannot comment at this time.”
However, Jessica Yates, executive director of OARC, told KDVR that her office had received the complaint and would investigate it.
Stanley has already been disciplined.
In 2019, she was censured for failing to keep a client reasonably informed while in private practice during a civil case.
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