In a shocking turn of events, the judge overseeing the murder trial of Barry Morphew, 53, heard evidence from a law enforcement witness this week that will likely prove vital to the accused man’s defense.
According to various local media reports, male DNA that corresponds to partial DNA profiles in numerous unsolved sexual assault cases from three jurisdictions in two different states turned up on the glovebox of Suzanne Morphew’s car. The DNA sample matched sexual assault cases in Chicago, Ill. as well as in Phoenix and Tempe, Ariz. The results came via the Combined DNA Index System, a national DNA database regularly used by law enforcement.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Joseph Cahill confirmed the match when questioned by Morphew defense attorney Iris Eytan.
The defense noted Cahill was listed as the CBI contact in letters sent to investigators in the three cities where the sexual assaults occurred.
Cahill confirmed during questioning that he was the person who collected the mystery man’s DNA sample from the glovebox but did not personally follow up on the three matches because he went on military leave soon thereafter. The agent said that a coworker would have followed up on those leads, according to a court report by criminal defense attorney and true crime podcaster Scott Reisch.
According to Lauren Scharf, a reporter with Colorado Springs FOX affiliate KXRM, Cahill said his military leave precluded him from reviewing or editing past page 19 of the 126-page arrest warrant affidavit. As Law&Crime previously noted, prosecutors and the judge in the case have dismissed repeat media requests to release that original arrest document. The prosecution, on the other hand, has released piecemeal evidence they claim bolsters their case against the husband-turned-defendant.
There is no scientific proof that there isn’t a match. Eytan is giving Agent Cahill multiple reports to review.
— Lauren Scharf (@LaurenScharfTV) August 24, 2021
Now Eytan is speaking about the CODIS match from #SuzanneMorphew glove box that matched in Chicago, Illinois. CBI Agent Cahill said he wasn’t aware until he got a call from Det. Burgis when he returned from military leave in May of 2021.
— Lauren Scharf (@LaurenScharfTV) August 24, 2021
During the Tuesday hearing, the defense sought to muddy the waters and reap dividends with the introduction of the DNA evidence — but initially had some trouble getting the CBI agent to play ball.
Ashley Franco of Colorado Springs CBS affiliate KKTV reported that during questioning, Cahill initially “continue[d] to say that he does not recall the affidavit he reviewed and does not remember the DNA portion.”
The defense also noted that unknown male DNA was also discovered on both the rear cushion of Suzanne Morphew’s car and on the handlebars of her bicycle. Eytan said the defendant’s DNA was not found in either of those samples.
CBI was notified that there was another DNA profile match to an unsolved sexual assault case in Pheonix Arizona from the DNA found on #SuzanneMorphew glovebox. In April 2021 Defense says there was another match from an unsolved sex assault case, this time in Chicago @KKTV11News
— Ashley Franco (@AshleyKKTV) August 24, 2021
The line of questioning came during the fourth and final day of preliminary hearings in the high-profile case. Eleventh Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Murphy is currently deciding whether or not the state has enough evidence to prosecute Morphew on charges of murder in the first degree and whether or not the defendant should be allowed to post bail should the case against him proceed.
After the defense and prosecution wrapped up their cases, another Morphew attorney, Dru Neillsen, pleaded with the judge to make a decision on whether to offer bail immediately. The judge declined.
“I’d rather make the decision correctly than expeditiously,” Murphy said — noting that he had nearly two dozen hours of testimony and hundreds of pages of evidence to sift through. “That will take some time to get together in some cogent and coherent way.”
Morphew’s next court appearance is currently slated for Sept. 17, when the judge has said he plans to hand down his decisions on both the bail issue and the continued murder trial itself.
Barry Morphew has consistently maintained his innocence.
The presumed-dead woman disappeared on Mother’s Day in 2020. She was eventually reported missing by a neighbor. The defendant says that he looked for her in earnest for three-to-five months — which retired FBI agent Johnathan Grusing confirmed in court on Tuesday.
Since the preliminary hearing began, it’s come out that the couple’s home life was unhappy and that the wife carried on a years-long affair; it is unclear if the husband knew the details of the affair, but he did suspect she was stepping out on him. Barry Morphew was charged with his wife’s murder just shy of a year after she was last seen alive.
Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found.
[images via Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office]
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