Snow Cancels Johnson County 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)


By Richard Pratt

IOWA CITY -- Testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Justin Marshall, accused in the fatal shooting of a landlord in Iowa City in October 2009, will be delayed for a day because of snow.

Judge Sean McPartland decided to cancel Wednesday’s proceedings before 8:30 a.m., allowing the 16 jurors to avoid the roads, if necessary.

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday. Wednesday’s delay marks the second time this week that testimony has been cancelled for an entire day. The stoppages likely will mean the trial will go beyond its original two-week time frame.

Attorneys on Monday spent the entire day discussing and investigating new information that came to light over the weekend from two key witnesses – James Brown and Rhonda Bluitt, neighbors of Marshall and his co-defendant Charles Thompson in the Broadway Condominium complex.

John Versypt, according to police, was a landlord for units in that complex in south Iowa City and was checking on his properties when he was fatally shot during an attempted robbery on Oct. 8, 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.

All three men originally were charged with first-degree murder. But Thompson’s trial, the first of the three, ended in a mistrial when prosecutors inadvertently presented evidence that was inadmissible.

Following the trial, Thompson agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for his promise to testify against Marshall. He has not yet taken the stand in Marshall’s trial.

If convicted on the murder charge, both Marshall and White could face life in prison.

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