Physical Evidence Lacking in Justin Marshall Murder Trial

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

Justin Marshall (left) talks with defense attorney Thomas Gaul during Marshall's trial for first-degree murder on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, at the Johnson County District Courthouse in Iowa City. Marshall is charged with first-degree homicide in the October 2009 shooting death of John Versypt. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Liz Blood

IOWA CITY, Iowa - In the hours and days following John Versypt’s shooting death in south Iowa City, officers processed the crime scene and sent numerous pieces of evidence to the state lab for testing.

But, one by one, hopeful avenues for potential leads reached dead ends. There were no fresh footprints outside the crime scene and no fingerprints on a nearby railing, according to testimony in Justin Marshall’s first-degree murder trial Friday.

A revolver found at the scene, along with five casings, a live bullet and Versypt’s wallet, also were checked for fingerprints but turned up nothing.

Hours after the fatal shooting on Oct. 8, 2009, officers canvassed the area around the Broadway Condominium complex in south Iowa City for evidence but found nothing of significance. Even tapping two men with wires to try and catch some conversation from Marshall and his co-defendant Charles Thompson about the shooting came up dry, according to Iowa City police Sgt. Zachary Dierson.

“Nothing of value was gleaned from that interaction,” Dierson testified on Friday.

The 16 jurors selected to hear the first-degree murder case against Marshall spent most of Friday listening to testimony from medical experts, evidence analysts and investigators and officers who were at the crime scene or followed up with the investigation.

Defense attorneys tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case Friday by asking questions about the integrity of the evidence collected and by noting the lack of physical evidence against their client.

Versypt, according to police, was a landlord for units in the Broadway Condominiums and was checking on his properties when he was shot in the head during an attempted robbery in October 2009. Thompson, 20, was the first person to be arrested in the case in February 2010, followed by Marshall, 22, in July 2011 and Courtney White, 25, in October 2011.

White and Marshall face first-degree murder charges. If convicted, they face life sentences in prison. Thompson originally was charged with first-degree murder, but his case ended in a mistrial. Following his mistrial, Thompson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for his promise to testify against Marshall.

He has not yet taken the stand in the Marshall trial.
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