The long-awaited trial of one of three suspects charged in the 2009 killing of an Iowa City landlord has been postponed for a third time, meaning it will not begin Sept. 17 as previously scheduled.
Instead, according to a judge’s ruling issued Wednesday morning, attorneys will participate in a phone conference to set a new trial date for the first-degree murder case against Justin Marshall, 21.
Johnson County District Court Judge Sean McPartland agreed to grant a request from Marshall’s defense attorney Thomas Gaul to delay the trial based on new information that Gaul is planning to ask the judge suppress some of the evidence against his client at trial.
Gaul told a judge that he discovered last week that an investigator might have violated his client’s rights during an interview.
“In one of their interrogations, they continued to interrogate him after he exerted his right to remain silent,” Gaul told McPartland on Monday. “Mr. Marshall said, ‘I don’t want to talk anymore,’ and they kept talking to him.”
Gaul said he plans to file a motion asking to suppress any evidence gathered during that interview. He also said the attorneys in Marshall’s case have not finished deposing witnesses who are probably going to be called to testify at trial.
One witness who still needs to be interviewed under oath is Charles Thompson, one of Marshall’s co-defendants. Thompson initially was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense 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 and because he has another felony case set for trial in Council Bluffs in early October that he believes could interfere.
“While this killing took place in 2009, much of the delay is not due to my client,” Gaul argued on Monday, noting that Marshall was held as a material witness in the case until investigators changed focus in July 2011.
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 depositions earlier in the summer, but the defense wasn’t available.
Rich-Chappell also said the interview that Gaul now opposes has been available to him on videotape for “some time now.”
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.