On Oct. 8, 2009 — the day John Versypt was fatally shot in Iowa City — the dashboard camera from a police officers’ squad car captured an image of three individuals walking by carrying garbage bags.
The squad car was parked outside the Broadway Condominium complex in south Iowa City following the shooting death of Versypt, a landlord who was checking on units he owned there.
Charles Thompson, one of three arrested in connection with the homicide, testified Thursday in his co-defendant Justin Marshall’s trial about that recorded image and his whereabouts that day.
Thompson, 20, originally was charged with first-degree murder in the case but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after his case ended in a mistrial. He was allowed to plead to a lesser charge in exchange for his testimony against Marshall, and on Thursday Thompson said he was in his bedroom for about an hour before the shooting occurred.
Thompson said he was playing Grand Theft Auto IV with his pregnant girlfriend when he heard a loud thump. He said it sounded like someone falling.
A few minutes later, Thompson testified, Marshall barged into his room acting “frantic.” According to Thompson, Marshall said someone got shot in the hallway, and Thomson said, “You’re lying.”
Thompson said Marshall, at the time, was wearing a grey zip-up sweatshirt and blue jeans. Marshall previously told officers he was wearing pajama pants and a blue and black zip-up jacket when the shooting occurred. Thompson said Marshall, who was living in the same apartment, later changed his clothes and put on the pajama pants and blue jacket.
Thompson told jurors that he saw Marshall put his blue jeans in a Walmart bag with other items, and then he saw Marshall put that Walmart bag inside a larger grocery bag. That evening, Thompson said, he left the apartment with Marshall and his girlfriend.
Both he and Marshall were carrying trash bags they needed to take to the dumpster. Thompson said Marshall was carrying the bag he stuffed his jeans into and they threw the garbage into a nearby dumpster.
That piece of testimony, about the trio carrying garbage bags in the evening, was corroborated by Iowa City police officer Vicki Lalla’s dashboard camera. Thompson’s testimony was cut short Thursday afternoon, and he is expected to retake the stand Friday morning.
Earlier Thursday, Marshall was shown in a videotaped interview with police changing his story from earlier statements he made to investigators.
But defense attorneys tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case by pointing out the lack of physical evidence against Marshall. Defense attorney Thomas Gaul argued, in fact, that all the evidence points to Thompson, including the murder weapon that witnesses reported seeing in Thompson’s bedroom.
Thompson was the first person to be arrested in the case in February 2010, followed by Marshall, 22, in July 2011 and Courtney White, 25, in October 2011.
If convicted on the first-degree murder charges, Marshall and White would face life sentences in prison.