By Jamie Leary

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The judge presiding over Barry Morphew’s preliminary hearing said there is probable cause for first-degree murder and the case will go to trial. He was arrested for the murder of his wife Suzanne in May.

(credit: CBS)

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On Friday, after hearing arguments from both the defense and prosecutors Murphy said while the evidence presented means it’s possible, he could have committed the crime, he cannot say for certain a jury would find him guilty. Based on this fact, Murphy said he was obligated to set bond for Morphew.

Prosecutors asked for a bond of $10 million, while the defense asked for a bond of $50,000. According to Murphy, one was far too high, essentially amounting to no bond, and the other was too low for the charges being brought forward which also include tampering with a body and attempting to influence a public official.

Murphy laid out many reasons why he believed first-degree murder was likely in the case, citing texts in the months leading up to Suzanne’s disappearance where she stated she was fearful. She said she was scared of Barry, that he was unstable, and Murphy said that fact alone makes it more likely that he was capable of harming his wife.

He also pointed out that on May 10, the day Suzanne went missing, while the Broomfield ordinance doesn’t allow construction work on Sundays, Barry knowingly went anyways and told investigators he spent around 5 hours in his hotel watching TV.

Barry and Suzanne Morphew

(credit: Morphew family)

Murphy said it makes no sense why he would leave his wife alone on Mother’s Day to drive to a job site he knew he couldn’t work and watch TV for most of the day.

He also pointed to the many discrepancies in statements made by Barry Morphew. One example he provided surrounded the dart gun.

On May 28, 2020 Barry Morphew said he never used his tranquilizer darts in Colorado, but later, on March 5 of this year, Morphew said he would use those darts on deer for antlers.

Murphy did go back to the reason he set bond, “Is he in danger of a jury verdict for first-degree murder?” Murphy said he couldn’t say with certainty and that there were multiple scenarios that cannot, at this point, be proved true or false:

1. Morphew murdered his wife and disposed of her body
2. Suzanne has purposely disappeared (Murphy believes this is unlikely).
3. Someone else killed her – Murphy says the DNA found in her car is evidence this is at least a possibility

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Murphy also reminded the court that there is no direct evidence linking Barry Morphew to the murder, no witnesses, no forensic evidence and he has not admitted to the crime. He says while the home security system was dibbled, it was Suzanne Morphew’s DNA on the cords to the security system. There was also unknown DNA detected on her bike and in the backseat of her car.

Murphy settled on a $500,000 all cash bond, which Morphew cannot post until Monday at noon.

There were tears in the courtroom from many of Morphew’s family members. The defense team said around 10 members of his family were present Friday awaiting the judge’s decision.

One of Morphew’s requests for bond was to be able to live in the neighboring county of Gunnison to be closer to his daughters. The defense argued that he would be a public spectacle living in Chaffee County, but Murphy denied the request.

“I want you here in Chaffee County so that I know you are close by,” he told Morphew in court.

Suzanne disappeared after leaving her home for a bike ride on Mother’s Day 2020 and what happened remains a mystery.

Barry Morphew (credit: Chaffee County)

Her body has never been found. Investigators have said they don’t believe Suzanne is still alive.

Last year, Barry Morphew told CBS4’s Jamie Leary that he believes she was abducted.

The defense says this case fails to prove there’s enough evidence to move forward, not because there is no body, but because the case is based on “supposition and conjecture.”

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The trial is set to begin May 3 through June 1, 2022. Morphew entered a plea of not guilty. The judge set the bond at $500,000 and Morphew must surrender his passport and cannot travel or reside outside of Chaffee County. He has been ordered to wear an ankle monitor.

Jamie Leary