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Dear Editor,

We are very concerned about Judge Ramsey Lama’s recent decision to prevent evidence of allegations of domestic violence from being admitted in the Barry Morphew murder trial.

Research has identified a number of factors in abusive relationships that increase the likelihood of lethality. According to Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and National Center for Victims of Crime, lethality factors include:

  • Threats of suicide on the part of the offender
  • Availability of weapons
  • Controlling or jealous behavior
  • Escalation of violence
  • Ending the relationship

Ending the relationship is a particularly poignant indicator of lethality in domestic violence; survivors who leave their abusers are at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed by their abusers than those who stay.

Preliminary evidence in the trial alleges that several of these factors were present in the Morphew’s relationship. The arrest affidavit outlines numerous examples, including:

  • Barry Morphew threatened suicide in text messages to Suzanne
  • Firearms were present and unsecured in the home
  • Several examples of controlling and jealous behavior, including controlling finances and monitoring Suzanne’s phone usage
  • Text messages from Suzanne indicating that things were “getting tense” and escalating
  • Numerous attempts on Suzanne’s part to leave the relationship

Any evidence related to these allegations is a critical piece of the story and should be admitted. Preventing this evidence from being admitted into the trial will not make it more fair for Mr. Morphew; in fact, it is the only way to ensure that the trial is comprehensive and fair.

The Alliance is here to help. We know that hearing the details of this case could be troubling for survivors of domestic violence and other members of the community. If you have questions or just need support, call 719-539-7347 or visit our office at 1055 E. Highway 50 in Salida.


Shelley Schreiner
Executive Director
The Alliance