Murder trial resumes today after jury sent home early Monday


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The jury was excused Monday for Justin Marshall’s trial for reasons that remain unclear, but Johnson County prosecutors indicate that the jury will return to the courtroom today.

Both Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness and assistant prosecutor Meredith Rich-Chappell confirmed the jury is scheduled to report today.

A University of Iowa law professor speaking about her experience said the unexpected action Tuesday could be due to a variety of factors, including allowing evidence, additional motions, and maybe work on a plea deal.

“I always engaged in negotiations outside of anyone besides the relevant parties,” said Song Richardson.

Marshall, 20, is on trial this week, charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 8, 2009, slaying of John Versypt.

Charles Thompson was previously charged with the homicide before his trial ended in a mistrial, and he accepted a plea deal. Thompson’s deal came after prosecutors showed part of a videotaped interview that officials had agreed would not be shown to the jury.

Thompson later pleaded guilty to accessory to a felony and signed documents stating he knew Marshall killed Versypt.

Prosecutors told jurors during opening arguments that he would tell them he saw Marshall throw away clothes he was wearing during the alleged killing.

Thomas Gaul — one of Marshall’s attorneys — remarked it was only after the mistrial that Thompson “suddenly remembers things.”

Gaul’s cross-examination on Jan. 25 consistently reminded jurors Friday of the lack of physical evidence implicating Marshall. This included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ inability to trace the revolver found at the crime scene and a lack of DNA or fingerprints from the crime scene.

Prosecutors said there was gun residue found on Marshall’s clothing, but experts agreed with Gaul that is possible Thompson’s clothing could have contaminated Marshall’s if they were collected together.

The trial was scheduled to last to the end of this week. Marshall faces life in prison if he is found guilty.

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