IOWA CITY — Jury selection in the trial of murder suspect Justin Marshall will continue into a second day after attorneys spent most of Tuesday interviewing prospective jurors behind closed doors.
Marshall, 22, is accused in the shooting death of John Versypt of Cordova, Ill., on Oct. 8, 2009. Versypt, according to police, was a landlord for units in the Broadway Condominiums in south Iowa City, and he was checking on his properties when he was shot in the head during an attempted robbery.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness began questioning the jury pool in open court just a half hour before ending for the day.
“This is a difficult case for everyone — it’s a murder case,” Lyness told the prospective jurors. “The nature of the case makes it a challenging case for everyone.”
Attorneys will choose 16 jurors, including four alternates, from a group of more than 50 people. Chosen jurors will be asked to listen to about two weeks of testimony before deciding the fate of Marshall, who faces a first-degree murder charge.
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 at the time. Thompson initially was charged with first-degree murder but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory after the fact after 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 scheduled 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.