Attorneys Eyeing Resolution for Final Murder Suspect in 2009 Iowa City Shooting
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Attorneys arguing the first-degree murder case against a third person arrested in connection with the 2009 shooting death of a landlord in south Iowa City are discussing a "possible resolution," according to online court records.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Justin Marshall – also arrested in the case and convicted last month of first-degree murder – has filed a motion for a new trial, according to court records.
Charles Thompson, 20, was first of the three arrested and tried in connection with the fatal shooting of John Versypt at the Broadway Condominiums on Oct. 8, 2009. His case ended in a mistrial in 2011, and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for his testimony against Marshall.
Marshall, 22, was the second person arrested in the case, and he was convicted of first-degree murder on Feb. 6 following a 13-day trial and 13-hour deliberation. His sentencing is set for April 26.
Courtney White, 25, was the final person arrested on first-degree murder charges, and his case is scheduled to go to trial on May 1.
This week, however, attorneys in White's case notified the court that they've been "engaging in discussions toward a possible resolution." A status conference in the case remains set for April 12.
"Should either of the parties learn of developments or have requests for further court action prior to (April 12), they shall bring such to the attention of the court," according to an online court note made by Johnson County Judge Sean McPartland.
McPartland has not yet responded to Marshall's request for a new trial, which was filed on Wednesday. After his conviction, Marshall's attorneys made it clear they were planning to appeal and request a new trial based on a controversial jury instruction.
Gaul argued that the theory of aiding and abetting should not have been included as an option for jurors because prosecutors had not presented evidence that Marshall worked in concert with someone else. A judge disagreed and read the instruction to jurors after they had heard all the evidence in the case.
After the verdict, jurors were polled on which theory they chose in coming to the murder verdict, and all but one juror convicted on the theory of aiding and abetting. There were several different theories, and they did not have to agree on the theory to come to a unanimous verdict.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said following the conviction that appeals are common, and she believes the jury instruction was appropriate.
John Versypt, according to police, was a landlord for units in the Broadway Condominium complex in south Iowa City at the time of his death. He was on the property Oct. 8, 2009, to hang no smoking and no loitering signs when he was held up in an attempted robbery and then shot through the hand and the head, according to police.
Prosecutors said Marshall eventually admitted to three inmates in the Muscatine County Jail that he was the gunman, and that he killed Versypt in a robbery gone wrong. Other witnesses corroborated facts that Marshall confessed to while in jail, according to prosecutors.
But defense attorneys argued that authorities collected almost no physical evidence against their client and that the jailhouse witnesses could be lying to get time off their sentences.