Jury selection resumes in Iowa City murder trial

Marshall accused in Iowa City landlord's October 2009 shooting death

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Jury selection in the Iowa City murder trial of Justin Marshall has resumed Tuesday morning with questioning of prospective jurors in open court.

Johnson County District Court Judge Sean McPartland has said he expects a jury to be seated by the lunch hour and hopes attorneys will begin with opening statements this afternoon.

Attorneys have narrowed a starting pool of more than 50 prospective jurors down to more than 30. They eventually will choose 16 jurors, including four alternates, to hear the case against Marshall.

Among County Attorney Janet Lyness' questions for prospective jurors this morning are those hinting at the type of testimony they might hear during the trial. She asked the members of the jury panel if they think prosecutors get to choose their witnesses or if they simply have to use people who might have relevant information.

If you "listen to someone and think, they're maybe not that bright, can you still make an assessment on their credibility?" Lyness asked.

Marshall, 22, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the Oct. 8, 2009, shooting death of John Versypt in south Iowa City. Marshall this morning is sitting between his two attorneys, wearing a blue colored shirt and occasionally whispering to his representatives during jury selection.

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.

Charles Thompson, 20, was the first person to be arrested in the case in February 2010, followed by Marshall in July 2011 and Courtney White, 25, in October 2011.

According to trial information, Thompson told police that he knew Marshall and another man killed Versypt, and he admitted to helping Marshall dispose of the clothes he was wearing. Thompson initially was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory after the fact following a mistrial in his case.

As part of his plea deal, Thompson agreed to testify against Marshall. Thompson will remain in custody until he has fulfilled his part of the deal. Thompson’s sentencing is set for Feb. 15.

White, who also faces a first-degree murder trial, is set to be tried May 1.

If convicted, Marshall and White face mandatory life sentences in prison.

Thompson’s lesser charge comes with a two-year prison term. By the time he’s sentenced, he’ll have been behind bars for three years, meaning he probably will be released.

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