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Judge Denies New Trial to Justin Marshall

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - The only suspect of three so far to be convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 shooting death of John Versypt in Iowa City will not get a new trial.

That means Justin Marshall, 22, still is set to be sentenced Friday to life in prison for his role in the robbery-gone-wrong that shook the community and remained unresolved for years.

Marshall was convicted Feb. 6 of first-degree murder after police said he attempted to rob Versypt on Oct. 8, 2009, and ended up shooting him in the hand and in the head. Veryspt, according to police, was a landlord for units in the Broadway Condominium complex in Iowa City and was hanging no-smoking and no-loitering signs when he was killed.

Charles Thompson, 20, was the first person arrested and tried on first-degree murder charges, but his case ended in a mistrial and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Marshall was the second person arrested, followed by Courtney White, 25, whose case is pending but appears to be headed toward a plea deal.

Marshall's defense attorneys filed a motion requesting a new trial based on a controversial jury instruction. During the trial, Marshall's attorneys objected to the judge reading the first-degree murder theories of aiding and abetting and joint criminal conduct to jurors during jury instructions.

They argued that jurors should not be allowed to convict on those theories because prosecutors hadn't presented evidence that Marshall worked in concert with anyone else.

Judge Sean McPartland disagreed and read the instructions anyway. Following a hearing earlier this week on Marshall's request for a new trial, McPartland again disagreed that the jury instruction was erroneous and denied Marshall's motion "in its entirety."

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