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Iowa City murder suspect’s lawyer says client’s rights were violated

Vanessa Miller, CR Gazette –

A Johnson County judge Monday morning told attorneys arguing the first-degree murder case against Justin Marshall that he’ll consider delaying the trial a third time after Marshall’s attorney said he discovered last week that one of his client’s interviews with authorities might be inadmissible at trial.

“In one of their interrogations, they continued to interrogate him after he exerted his right to remain silent,” defense attorney Thomas Gaul told Judge Sean McPartland. “Mr. Marshall said, ‘I don’t want to talk anymore,’ and they kept talking to him.”

Gaul said he intends to file a motion asking to suppress any evidence gathered during that interview. And, Gaul said, attorneys still need to depose about 10 witnesses before the trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 17.

One witness who still needs to be interviewed under oath is Charles Thompson, one of Marshall’s co-defendants who originally was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory after the fact in December after a mistrial in his case. As part of the plea deal, Thompson agreed to testify against Marshall.

Thompson is scheduled to give his deposition on Friday, and Gaul said he needs more time to prepare Marshall’s case both because of the suppression motion he wants to file and because he has another felony case set for trial in Council Bluffs in early October that he believes could interfere with Marshall’s case.

“While this killing took place in 2009, much of the delay is not due to my client,” Gaul argued, noting that Marshall was held as a material witness in the case until investigators changed focus in July 2011.

McPartland asked Gaul why he only filed a motion to continue the trial on Wednesday morning of last week – after a Tuesday hearing discussing jury issues, and before the Wednesday deposition of the officer who Gaul believes violated his client’s rights.

And, McPartland asked, “Why are we waiting until less than a month before the trial to take that deposition?”

Johnson County Assistant County Attorney Meredith Rich-Chappell filed a motion resisting delaying the trial, and she told the judge on Monday that prosecutors tried to schedule the depositions earlier in the summer, but the defense wasn’t available.

Rich-Chappell also said the interview that Gaul is now opposing was available to him on videotape before last week – for “some time now.”

McPartland said he will rule later Monday or Tuesday on whether he’ll continue the trial.

Thompson has been in jail since taking the plea deal because he agreed to remain in custody until after his sentencing, and his sentencing has been postponed until after Marshall’s trial.

A third co-defendant, Courtney White, 23, of Coralville, was arrested in October on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the case. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 8.

All three men are accused in the killing John Versypt, 64, of Cordova, Ill., on Oct. 8, 2009, as the landlord checked in on his condominiums in south Iowa City. Versypt, according to police, was fatally shot in the head and hand during an attempted robbery while he was working on one of his units in the Broadway Condominiums.

If convicted, both Marshall and White face mandatory life sentences in prison.

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