Former suspect Thompson testifies in Justin Marshall murder trial


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Three years ago, Charles William Curtis Thompson was the primary suspect in the October 2009 homicide of an Iowa City landlord.

But on Thursday, Thompson, now 20, took the stand as a witness, testifying against former roommate Justin Marshall, who is charged with killing 64-year-old John Versypt.

“He was, like, frantic,” Thompson said in decribing Marshall’s demeanor after he “barged in” to Thompson’s room on Oct. 8, 2009, and announced that someone had been shot and killed in their apartment complex. Police later identified the deceased man as Versypt, the former Broadway Condominiums owner.

When asked what happened in the minutes following Marshall’s startling entrance, Thompson said Marshall removed his jeans.

“He put his pants in a Walmart bag,” Thompson said. Along with the pants, he said there appeared to be another item in the bag, but he did not know what it was. “… He went to the kitchen and put the Walmart bag inside the big trash bag.”

Once Marshall changed into “pajama pants and a black and blue jacket,” Marshall, Thompson, and Thompson’s then-girlfriend left the apartment with trash bags, Thompson said. Among those trash bags was the one that held Marshall’s jeans.

Thompson entered a plea deal with the state in December 2011; he was originally charged with killing Versypt. Thompson pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, an aggravated misdemeanor, on Dec. 2, The Daily Iowan previously reported. He signed court documents stating that Marshall was the person who killed Versypt.

After Thompson described this sequence of events, Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness presented “exhibit 103” to the jury for a second time.

Earlier, the jury had learned that “exhibit 103” was video footage captured from Iowa City police Sgt. Vicki Lalla’s squad car after she arrived at the scene.

After parking her vehicle outside 1958 Broadway St. Building C, the apartment building in which Versypt was killed, Lalla tended to the scene.

Surveillance from inside the car captured video footage of three people carrying plastic bags of varying size. One of the three in the video wore the blue and black jacket Thompson described.
Thompson identified the people in the video as himself in the front, his then-girlfriend in the middle, and Marshall in the back.

Upon reaching a Dumpster, Marshall tossed the garbage bag that held the pants he wore earlier that day, Thompson said.

Marshall had a different recollection of the day.

As one of the first to respond to the “suspicious death investigation,” Iowa City police Sgt. Paul Batcheller said he conducted numerous interviews with Marshall in the days following the homicide.
During about 10 hours of on and off interviews with Marshall, Batcheller said, Marshall appeared “defeated” and “deceptive.”

But once Marshall and Batcheller spoke alone, as per Marshall’s request, Marshall’s account changed.

“Mr. Marshall stated he was on the couch and Mr. Thompson received a telephone call,” Batcheller said. Marshall then told Batcheller he overheard Thompson’s conversation in which Thompson talked about “hitting a sweet lick,” slang for committing a robbery.

“He told me that Charles Thompson admitted that they hit a lick and that the lick went wrong,” Batcheller said.

Along with Marshall’s sudden admission of information related to the murder was a change in his demeanor.

“He appeared very factual and sincere,” Batcheller said of Marshall during their one-on-one conversation.

With these two very different stories, DNA results could have proven which account of the events that took place on Oct. 8, 2009, was true.

But when Michael Halverson, a criminalist for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, took the stand, his results showed little convictable evidence against Marshall.

During his testimony, Halverson said no items taken from Marshall showed positive results for blood. While Halverson did find blood on items known to belong to Thompson, DNA tests failed to identify the source of the blood.

“I did DNA testing on [Thompson’s hooded sweatshirt], and that failed to give me an interpretable … profile of that sample,” Halverson said.

The trial will reconvene at 9 a.m. today.

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