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Defense: Evidence unreliable in Thompson trial

BY ERIC MOORE | SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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Defense attorneys continued to question the integrity of a homicide investigation during Charles William Curtis Thompson's trial on Monday.

Family members of John Versypt, the landlord Thompson allegedly killed two years ago, turned their heads as photos of Versypt's purple, bloodied face appeared on a television in the Johnson County Courthouse. At one point Monday, they even left the courtroom.

Thompson, 19, the man charged with first-degree murder in connection with Versypt's death, watched solemnly as photos came across the screen.

Iowa City police Sgt. David Droll, one of the investigators in the case, identified each photo during his testimony on Monday.

Johnston specifically asked about clothes investigators contend are Thompson's that were given to Droll a few days after Versypt's shooting.

"You testified that Mr. Thompson's hoodie was in a sack — how many sacks did you get on that day?" defense attorney Tyler Johnston asked.

Droll responded he received several sacks and was unable to recall the exact number.

Johnston went on to question whether Droll saw the clothes before they were handed to him in sacks, pointing out they could have been tampered with before he viewed them. Droll said he could not speak to this possibility, because it would have happened prior to the clothes being in his possession.

Droll also explained the bullet that killed Versypt entered a piece of drywall at an upward angle. He said he determined this by rolling up a piece of magazine paper and sticking it through the bullet hole in the piece of dry wall it was found in, a method he created.

Johnston asked whether there may be some margin of error because the technique was self-created.

"Unfortunately, everywhere that I looked, there was nothing to learn how to deal with the thickness of drywall," Droll said. "I'm not trying to make it any more than it was."

Johnston asked whether dusting was performed on the area. Droll said he did not "see anything worth dusting for" and also said it's difficult to retrieve fingerprints from drywall.

Johnston also asked why more testing was not done on the carpet the day of the homicide, before it was rolled up and removed.

"Nothing jumped out at us as being significant, but at the same time, we weren't comfortable leaving the carpeting there," Droll said. "I believe anytime you manipulate evidence, there is a potential of losing something. There is no perfect way of doing that. As I said, care was taken."

The piece of drywall used to determine the bullet trajectory was cut out of the wall by Officer Andrew Rich, who also assisted with retrieving the bullet from the wall. During his testimony, Rich confirmed several pictures of the drywall taken from the crime scene but explained he "was there just mostly for physical labor if needed."

Monday's proceedings concluded with a part of a video interview between Thompson and special agent Richard Rahn, who worked with Iowa City police. The interview took place four days after the homicide.

Before video of the interview was shown, the defense requested and succeeded in having some portions of the video blocked. Representative for the defense Sarah Hradek said certain snippets of it could "arguably have some prejudicial value" that could affect the jury's decision.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. today in the Johnson County Courthouse.


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