Witness held in killing


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A witness to the Oct. 8 shooting on the Southeast Side that killed Cordova, Ill., resident John Versypt is being held for questioning in the Johnson County Jail on a $150,000 cash-only bond.

Authorities contend that 19-year-old Justin Alexander Marshall is a material witness in the shooting at 1958 Broadway Building C. Police filed an arrest warrant on Nov. 18, according to court documents.

The documents state Marshall was in the apartment building when the 68-year-old victim was shot; authorities believe he has key information regarding details of the shooting.

Police investigators first questioned Marshall on the day of the shooting, but further interviews with other witnesses did not corroborate his story, according to police.

After further questioning, police said Marshall changed his story from the day of the crime. He agreed to two polygraph tests, and police records allege in both instances he was found to be deceiving police.

At this time, Marshall was living with his aunt, Stacey Marshall, in Apartment 5C in same complex where the shooting took place.

Stacey Marshall, the leaseholder of the apartment, and one of her daughters have since moved to Chicago.

Police arrived at the scene of the crime at 4:08 p.m. Oct. 8 to find Versypt’s body next to a gun, a screwdriver, and “No Smoking” sign. Versypt was a landlord of the Broadway Condominiums and was there to check up on the residence.

Witnesses said they saw the man breathing heavily on the floor of the building’s hallway, his face obscured by a hood.

Justin Marshall had been arrested on an unrelated forgery charge on Oct. 15, police said. In the days prior to the arrest, officers heard Stacey Marshall had purchased a bus ticket for him to Texas. He had also been charged with a criminal offense in Lancaster, Texas, in December 2006, documents show.

Officers are not aware of any other of Justin Marshall’s relatives living in the Iowa City area, though his father, Jeffrey Marshall, used to live in Iowa City. His whereabouts are now unknown.

Documents show Jeffrey Marshall has an outstanding arrest warrant after failing to appear for a probation revocation hearing on charges of child endangerment and operating while intoxicated in conjunction with an incident that took place Aug. 12, 2008.

Tim Hagle, a UI associate professor of political science who also has a law degree, said “material witness” is a vague term; it can range from someone who saw details of a crime and is scared to come forward to a person who committed the crime.

Not all material witnesses are held by police, he said, and it is likely that Justin Marshall is being held because police have reason to believe he may flee. Police could also suspect he committed the crime, and they may be holding him until they can prove probable cause to a judge.

“The police aren’t going to be able to hold onto this person for very long, until something comes up about the case,” he said.

If Marshall does not become a suspect for the shooting, Hagle said he could be charged with obstruction of justice for lying to the police.

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