Moments before being sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, Justin Marshall turned to the family of John Versypt of Cordova.|
"I am innocent," Mr. Marshall said during his sentencing hearing Friday. "I don't know who did this, who did such a horrific act to someone else … and I'm sorry for your guys' loss."
But, he repeated, he's innocent.
Turning back to Johnson County District Court Judge Sean McPartland, Mr. Marshall received his inevitable life sentence in prison. His attorney, Thomas Gaul, made no statements on his behalf as state law mandates a life term for a first-degree murder conviction.
Immediately after Mr. Marshall's hearing, one of his two co-defendants, Courtney White, 25, pleaded guilty to tampering with witnesses or jurors. His first-degree murder charge will be dropped and he will be released from jail pending paperwork with an old probation violation.
Mr. White has been in jail on the murder charge for about 18 months. Court documents indicate the amount of time he has served exceeds what he would have spent in prison on the tampering charge.
Charles Thompson, 20, was the first person arrested on murder charges in the shooting. His case ended in a mistrial; he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge earlier this year and was sentenced to time served earlier.
Mr. Marshall was convicted Feb. 6 of first-degree murder after police said he tried to rob Mr. Versypt on Oct. 8, 2009, shooting him in the hand and the head. Mr. Versypt, the landlord of an Iowa City apartment complex, was hanging no-smoking and no-loitering signs when he was killed, police said.
Before Mr. Marshall;s sentencing, Mr. Versypt's wife, Janet, spoke of the pain she has endured in the loss of her "husband, best friend and favorite travel companion."
"He was a hard worker and a great landlord, as he tried to help others have a safe and comfortable home," she said. "I am so mad he was killed trying to keep others safe."
Aledo, IL Details
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