The Colorado man once accused of killing his missing wife filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday alleging the now-dropped criminal prosecution violated his constitutional rights.
Barry Morphew, 55, is seeking $15 million for what he says was a malicious criminal prosecution in his wife’s disappearance. He is suing Chaffee County, the sheriff’s office and board of commissioners, 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley and members of her staff, as well as Colorado Bureau of Investigation and FBI agents.
Morphew claims in the 185-page complaint that authorities conspired to wrongly arrest him, fabricated evidence, concealed exculpatory evidence and conducted a reckless investigation that led to Morphew’s being wrongly held in jail and prosecuted.
The lawsuit follows a professional complaint that his attorney, Iris Eytan, lodged last month against Stanley and several members of her office in which Eytan accused the prosecutors of misconduct and unethical behavior during the murder case.
“Barry suffered the indignity of being wrongfully arrested, jailed and prosecuted for a crime he did not commit,” Eytan said in a statement Tuesday. “We will not rest until those responsible for this miscarriage of justice are held accountable.”
Morphew was charged in May 2021 with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Suzanne Morphew, who disappeared from the family’s Chaffee County home in May 2020. Her body was never found.
Prosecutors dropped all charges against Morphew last year after a judge sanctioned the district attorney’s office for discovery violations, part of what another judge has said was a larger pattern of such violations by the prosecutor’s office since Stanley took office in 2021.
Investigators argued Morphew killed his wife on the night of May 9, 2020, after discovering her two-year extramarital affair, then disposed of her body and belongings before a neighbor reported her missing the next day.
Morphew maintained he left his wife asleep in bed on the morning she disappeared and has argued she was abducted or ran away.
The lawsuit seeks the $15 million in part due to Morphew’s “irreparably tarnished’ reputation, as well as the “great anguish,” depression and insomnia brought on by the prosecution, according to the complaint.
Stanley and Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday. Spokeswomen for the FBI and CBI declined to comment.
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