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Evidence deliberated in Thompson murder trial

BY ERIC MOORE | SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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A 6th District judge will deliberate several evidence and witness-related issues following the first day of jury selection in Charles William Curtis Thompson's first-degree murder trial.

Thompson, 19, was charged in the October 2009 shooting death of John Versypt, a landlord of several Broadway buildings. Police arrested a second suspect in the case, Justin Marshall, in August. Marshall was charged with first-degree murder; he will be tried in January.

Prior to jury selection, the state, represented by Assistant County Attorney Meredith Rich-Chappel, filed a motion to add two additional pieces of evidence — a ski mask and blood-splattered jeans — which was resisted by Thompson's attorney.

Defense attorney Tyler Johnston argued that testing for gun residue on the ski mask and blood-splatter analysis on the jeans was insufficient.

"There is absolutely no evidence connecting this ski mask to the defendant charged in this case," Johnston said. "The only substance on this ski mask is our client's DNA … that only connects it to our client, that does not connect it to our crime."

Johnston said the state could have tested the jeans more extensively at a private research center, and the ski mask was only being considered for evidence because of "prejudicial value."
Rich-Chappel said that argument is "something that can be explained or questioned about in cross-examination."

"The state believes that the ski mask goes to those elements of premeditation and planning," the prosecutor said.

Also discussed was the defense's notice to add an additional witness, Carl Johnson Jr., who reportedly had conversations with Marshall — the second man charged in the murder — during their stay in the Muscatine County Jail in 2010.

After receiving an email from Iowa City private investigator Mike Smithey detailing his interview with Johnson last week, Johnston said Johnson appeared to believe Thompson is innocent.

The defense argued the state placed Johnson in jail with Marshall to "fish" information from him.

"The state calls jail-house snitches all the time to convict people," Johnston said. "What the state is saying here is that 'we went fishing, and we don't like what we caught.' "

But Rich-Chappel said the prosecution did not send Johnson into Muscatine jail to dig for information.

"Most of our inmates are held in the Johnson County Jail," Rich-Chappel said. "[An email received by the defense on Tuesday regarding Johnson] was the first time that I had heard of Carl Johnson."

Several interviews between Marshall and law officials were presented as exhibits by the state. Rich-Chappel said these interviews feature Marshall implicating both himself and Thompson in regard to the slaying of Versypt.

Judge Sean McPartland will issue a ruling on the issues prior to the trial after reviewing the documents submitted.

Jury selection began around 1:30 p.m. Monday. McPartland said he wanted questions to center on whether potential jurists had heard of the case from media, word of mouth, or other sources.

Additional questioning of all jurors will continue at 9 a.m. today at the Johnson County Courthouse.


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