SALIDA, Colo. (KRDO) -- Barry Morphew appeared over video conference in a Chaffee County courtroom Thursday on his voting fraud charges. He's accused of casting a ballot for Donald Trump in his missing wife's name months after she vanished in 2020.
Suzanne Morphew was reported missing by neighbors on Mother's Day of 2020. Morphew, her husband, says he was in a Denver suburb for work at the time of her disappearance.
The 11th Judicial District Attorney's Office charged Morphew with the murder of his wife in May of 2021, a year after she was reported missing. Amid allegations that the DA's office was not following pre-trial procedure and was failing to disclose evidence favorable to Morphew to his attorneys and the court, District Attorney Linda Stanley announced she would drop the murder charges against Morphew in April of 2022, days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
Morphew told investigators he thought she may have been out for a bike ride when she vanished, as she had recently started taking daily bike rides. Searchers found her bike over the side of a county road roughly a half-mile from the Morphew home in Chaffee County. Her helmet was found roughly a mile down the same road days later. Investigators testified that there was no evidence of a crash or attack where the bike was found.
While the murder charges against Morphew were dismissed, he's still facing three charges in a separate case. He's facing two felony charges, for forgery and attempting to influence a public servant. He's facing a third misdemeanor election charge.
The active charges stem from allegations that Morphew cast a ballot in his missing wife's name in October of 2020.
According to an affidavit filed in Colorado Court, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell reported on Oct. 22 that the office had received a ballot that was "predesignated for a missing person, identified as Suzanne Morphew."
The County Clerk gave the ballot to a Chaffee County Sheriff's Office sergeant as evidence. The ballot had an address listed as 19057 Puma Path in Salida, which is where the Morphews resided. The ballot didn't have a signature, but it did have a "handwritten date of 10/15/20" and the handwritten name of "Barry Lee Morphew on the designated signature line of Witness' Legal Name," according to the affidavit.
After a detective got the evidence, on April 22, 2021, FBI agents met with Barry Morphew in person near the Franz Lake area. This was before Morphew was taken into custody for a first-degree murder charge.
During the interview, the agents asked Barry why he submitted Suzanne's election ballot.
According to the affidavit, Barry replied, "Just because I wanted Trump to win ... I just thought, give him another vote, I figured all these other guys are cheating."
Barry also told the FBI agents, "I know [Suzanne] was going to vote for Trump anyway."
The FBI agents asked Morphew if he knew that it was illegal, and he replied saying, "I didn't know you couldn't do that for your spouse."
One of Morphew's attorneys, Iris Eytan, indicated in court Thursday, June 30, 2022, to Judge Patrick Murphy that they are close to reaching a plea deal with the prosecution in this case. Both sides are confident they can reach a deal in the next three weeks, agreeing to meet for Morphew's arraignment on July 21, 2022.
While Morphew faces these charges, Stanley has noted that Morphew can still be re-charged with his wife's murder. The DA's office also stated they felt they were close to finding Suzanne's remains.
Her remains still have not been found.
Morphew has maintained his innocence in his wife's death since she disappeared. The two daughters Barry and Suzanne share have been by his side throughout the legal process.