The drama surrounding the disappearance of Chaffee wife and mother Suzanne Morphew got even more convoluted this week, as her husband Barry Morphew filed a civil rights lawsuit against the 11th Judicial District, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, claiming that he was wrongfully charged with her murder.
He is filing for a $15 million settlement, blaming the sheriff for “irreparably” tarnishing his “name and reputation” with a “conspiracy to violate his state and federal constitutional rights” with the failed murder investigation.
Suzanne Morphew disappeared on Mother’s Day, 2020. Her husband was charged with her murder in May, 2021 by the Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley.
During the months leading up to the trial, which was scheduled for last May, defense attorneys repeatedly hammered the prosecution for not delivering discovery documents in a timely manner.
Then after the trial was moved out of Chaffee County, the judge ruled that a significant portion of the prosecution’s case related to spousal abuse and could not be admitted as evidence. That finally led the DA’s office to withdraw their case and Morphew walked free.
The list of accusations is quite stupendous; he alleges malicious prosecution, unlawful detention, fabrication of evidence, reckless investigation, failure to intervene, and conspiracy. His life is ruined, says Morphew, because law enforcement and prosecutor accused him in an affidavit filled with “falsehoods, material omissions, inaccuracies, and misleading statements.”
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, May 2 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by Fisher & Byrialsen, PLLC, Samler & Whitson, PC, and Eytan Law LLC. The list of defendants named in the civil case is practically a who’s who of anyone in courts or law enforcement that ever touched the case: Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Lindsey and Deputy District Attorney Mark Hurlbert (prosecutors in the DA’s office).
It includes the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff John Spezze, Detective Robin Burgess, Deputy Randy Carricato, Deputy Scott Himschoot, Sergeant Claudette Hysjulien, Sergeant William Plackner (sheriff’s office investigators), Colorado Bureau of Investigation agents John Camper, Joseph Cahill, Megan Duge, Caitlin Rogers, Derek Graham, Kevin Koback, Kirby Lewis, FBI agents Jonathan Grusing and Kenneth Harris, and one to ten John/Jane Does.
“As result of the Defendants’ conduct Barry was charged, arrested, and prosecuted, and his property seized, for a crime he did not commit,” read the filing. Never mind that his wife vanished on a bicycle ride and never returned.
His suit says that the case against him was never proved. Indeed; it never went to trial.