CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — In his first court appearance Thursday morning, Barry Morphew, who's accused of first-degree murder in the Suzanne Morphew case, was read his rights and told he was allowed to have "civil contact" with his daughters if they wanted to interact with him.
Barry, 53, was arrested Wednesday near his home in Poncha Springs on charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with physical evidence and an attempt to influence a public servant, according to court documents.
He entered the courtroom in the Chaffee County Courthouse in Salida for an advisement and bond hearing Thursday at 10:30 a.m. His hands were handcuffed in front of him and he was wearing an orange and white striped jumpsuit with a blue medical mask. He spoke quietly with two public defenders next to him — Daniel Zettler and Magdalena Rosa — as they waited for Chaffee County Judge Patrick Murphy to enter.
The judge walked into the courtroom at 10:36 a.m.
Barry did not speak throughout the hearing aside from saying "yes, sir" and "no, sir" when Judge Murphy asked him if he understood his rights and if he had any questions about them.
At the end of the hearing, Judge Murphy asked the prosecution about a protection order for Barry and Suzanne's two daughters, Mallory and Macy. The prosecution said it did not object to "civil contact" between Barry and his daughters.
"Mr. Morphew, I will enter a protection order that will allow you to have contact with Mallory and Macy Morphew," Judge Murphy said. "The idea is that that contact has to be civil, so you can't threaten, harass or annoy."
A violation of this could result in a charge of violation of a protection order, the judge said.
Barry's next court date is set for May 27 at 4 p.m.
In an interview with ABC News Thursday, Suzanne Morphew's sister, Melinda Moorman, said she thinks Barry, who is an outdoorsman, is "not a man who would want to lose his freedom," and she hopes the arrest will lead to a confession.
"Barry Morphew has the full weight of the authorities and the law coming against him," she told ABC News. "And if he has any kind of sense at all and he loves his girls at all, I hope he'll do the right thing and confess and save us all more heartache."
She said the Morphews' two daughters were the "heart and soul" of their mother. She said she loves them and prays for them often.
The daughters have been living with Barry since their mother disappeared, according to ABC News. They were in court on Thursday and mouthed "I love you" to their father, ABC News reported.
His arrest came almost a full year — 360 days — after Suzanne was reported missing.
In a press conference Wednesday, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze and District Attorney Linda Stanley said they gathered evidence and information over the past year that led to this arrest and the charges, though the affidavit remains sealed and authorities didn't announce an alleged cause of death.
Stanley said she wouldn't have brought forth a first-degree murder charge if she wasn't confident in it, even if Suzanne's body hasn't been found.
To read more about Wednesday's arrest and background on the case, click here.