Men charged with murder in Iowa City landlord case face different fates


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All in the courtroom held their breath as the fate of one man charged with murder was sealed. The men charged with murder in the same case now face very different futures.

Justin Marshall, 22, was found guilty on Feb. 7 of the murder of John Versypt, the former landlord of Broadway Condominiums, in October 2009. He was sentenced to life in prison on April 26.

Courtney White, who was charged with first-degree murder on Oct. 3, 2011, was the third suspect in the case. Charles Thompson was the original suspect in the case until his trial ended in a mistrial due to a mistake by the prosecution. Thompson later pleaded guilty to accessory to a felony and signed a document stating he knew Marshall killed Versypt.

On April 26, White pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness with a maximum sentence of two years. According to a Courthouse document, White admitted to threatening a person he believed to have been summoned as a witness in the Versypt murder case. He was credited the time he has already served and should be released “soon,” White’s attorney told The Daily Iowan.

“He maintained his innocence through the whole process,” said Jonathan Stensvaag, one of White’s attorneys. “He’s always denied that he was involved with [the alleged murder] or had any information about it.”

Stensvaag said White is happy to gain his freedom and plans to move on with his life.

“Facing a first-degree murder charge and having this result … is good enough for anyone,” he said.

At Marshall’s sentencing on April 26, Janet Versypt, John Versypt’s wife, made an emotional statement to the court that her life has turned upside down since the loss of her husband.

“The last three and a half years, life has been so full of ups and downs, without John,” she said while tearing up.

Janet Versypt said she is relieved to see this all coming to an end.

“Going through these judicial trials and postponement[s] have left us mentally exhausted,” she said. “One day, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and then something happens to prolong the whole mess.”

She described the experience as “horrific.”

“No one should have to go through a murder trial,” Janet Versypt said after the sentencing. “This kind of brings a lot of closure, and we can move on from here.”

At the time of the incident, Marshall was living in the apartment complex with his aunt, cousins, and Thompson, his cousin’s boyfriend. The prosecution in the case has described the incident as a “robbery gone wrong.”

A statement was read at the sentencing on behalf of John Versypt’s sister, Mary Tiernan, in which she addressed Marshall.

“You attempted to rob him for less than $20, but his subsequent murder robbed his family of much more,” she said. “But Justin, the Versypt family and friends weren’t the only ones who were robbed because of your senseless, thoughtless act … you robbed yourself of your freedom.”

At Marshall’s trial, Thompson testified that minutes after the shooting, Marshall entered the apartment and changed his pants. He testified that he put his pants inside a Walmart shopping bag and then put the bag inside a larger trash bag he later threw in a Dumpster.

Several of Marshall’s former inmates from Muscatine County Jail testified that Marshall admitted to killing Versypt and that he hoped to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

However, at his sentencing in response to the family’s statement, Marshall solemnly expressed his innocence and remorse for the Versypt family’s loss.

“I don’t know who did this,” he said. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love. Justice was not served upon this case.”

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