CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo — The judge that had been overseeing the case against Barry Morphew, who is charged with murder in the disappearance of his wife Suzanne, has recused himself from the case.
The move followed a request by the defense to have Judge Patrick W. Murphy barred from any further participation in the case after a conversation between Morphew's defense and Martin Stuart, the defense attorney for a woman mentioned in Morphew's arrest affidavit.
>The video above is about the initial request for recusal by the defense.
Morphew is charged in the death of his wife Suzanne Morphew, whose body has never been found after she was last seen on May 10, 2020. She is presumed dead, according to the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office.
Shoshana Darke, 51, was taken into custody in September after trespassing at the Morphew's former residence and removing a package, according to Chaffee County Sheriff's Office.
Darke faces one count of second-degree criminal trespass, and was released on a personal recognizance bond after being booked at the Chaffee County Detention Center, the sheriff's office said.
In mid-October, Murphey had removed himself from hearing that case, because he had a long personal relationship with Sean McDermott, who was a partner in the firm representing Darke.
Darke, may be called as a witness in the case against Barry Morphew.
In his ruling, Murphey said although the conflict only represented a small portion of the case he felt there was "no choice" but to disqualify.
It will not be the responsibility of the Chief Judge for the district to appoint a new judge to oversee the case moving forward. In this case, Murphey, also serves as the Chief Judge for the 11th Judicial District, so the district administrator will take on that role.
The district administrator will work with the Chief Justice to appointment a replacement.
In September, Murphy found probable cause that Morphew might have murdered his wife, that he may have had motivation to do so and also found probable cause on four other charges:
- First-degree murder
- Tampering with a deceased human body
- Tampering with physical evidence
- Possession of a dangerous weapon
- Attempt to influence a public servant
Morphew pleaded not guilty and waived his right to a speedy trial.
The trial was set for May 3, 2022 through June 1, 2022.
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