CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Barry Morphew has filed a civil suit against several prosecutors, Chaffee County, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to the lawsuit, Morphew is seeking $15 million dollars for "the damages caused by the defendant prosecutors, Chaffee County, and law enforcement officials."
The murder case against Barry Morphew was dismissed on April 19, 2022. He was accused of killing his wife, Suzanne Morphew, who was reported missing on Mother's Day 2020. Her body has never been found.
The 314-page federal lawsuit asserts 13 different claims all surrounding Morphew being prosecuted for his wife's disappearance and alleged murder.
Those claims include:
- Malicious Prosecution and unlawful detention
- Fabrication of Evidence
- Violation of Due Process for Defendants who authored the Arrest Affidavit
- Due Process – Unlawful retention of property
- Failure to Intervene
- Reckless Investigation
- Final Policymakers, Ratification, Unconstitutional Official Policy and Failure to Supervise and Train
- Malicious Prosecutio -- Per State Law
- Fabrication of Evidence -- Per State Law
- False and Misleading Information in an Arrest Warrant Affidavit and Omission and Concealment of Exculpatory Information -- Per State Law
- Conspiracy -- Per State Law
- Unlawful deprivation of property -- Per State Law
The complaint alleges that the prosectors, Chaffee County, and both state and federal law enforcement agencies: "conspired to deprive Barry Morphew of his due process rights and his right to be free from seizure, incarceration, deprivation of property and restrictions on liberty, to fabricate evidence
against him, to manipulate witness testimony, to suppress, conceal and omit exculpatory evidence, to falsify charges, to commit the misconduct described in this Complaint, and to conceal the knowing and reckless misconduct and to protect one another from liability for depriving Barry Morphew of his
13 Investigates spoke with Colorado Springs defense attorney Jeremy Loew about the suit and the amount associated with the lawsuit.
"The stress of having somebody accuse you of killing your wife, the stress of being incarcerated, the stress of having a homicide trial weighing on your shoulders, where if you lose, you can be put to death or now incarcerated for the rest of your life," Loew said. "$15 million may sound like a lot, but if it really is a malicious prosecution, it may not nearly be enough."
Loew said it is "not common" for people accused of crimes to sue the prosectors and law enforcement involved in charging them. He says it takes someone with resources to hire multiple law firms to file a lawsuit of this length.
"Mr. Morphew has three law firms working on this case, and it could be in excess of $500 an hour, if not more. He's probably fronting the bill himself to send a message," Loew said.
Loew says filing this lawsuit does not come without any risk to Morphew or the accusations thrown at him in a case that has been dismissed without prejudice, meaning DA Linda Stanley can re-file the case if more evidence surfaces. He says Morphew may have to be questioned by attorney's who are representing all of the defendants in the lawsuit.
"Mr. Morphew has had the right to remain silent throughout this entire process. However, when he brings a lawsuit, he's giving up that right to remain silent and can absolutely be deposed of," Loew said. If he's deposed and answers questions it could lead to more charges being filed going forward."
Loew says it's entirely possible that each defendant hires a different attorney, and if Barry Morphew has to go through multiple different depositions, his story will have to stay the same through all of them.
"If they named 50 people, that's 50 depositions that his story has to remain consistent, accurate and foolproof," Loew said.
Morphew's lawyers say that Barry Morphew and his daughters continue to urge authorities to find Suzanne Morphew, who has been missing for nearly three years.
When asked, the CBI and FBI said it does not have a comment on the suit. 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley's office did not respond to 13 Investigates request for comment.
"Barry suffered the indignity of being wrongfully arrested, jailed, and prosecuted for a crime he did not commit. We will not rest until those responsible for this miscarriage of justice are held accountable," Iris Eytan, Morphews' lead counsel said in the release.