Man pleads guilty in 2009 Iowa killing, sentenced to prison

IOWA CITY (AP) — A man who was convicted of killing an Iowa City landlord before having that ruling overturned has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Justin Marshall, 26, was sentenced Friday in Johnson County District Court. He also pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery and intimidation with a dangerous weapon for the 2009 death of 64-year-old John Versypt.
At his sentencing, Marshall admitted he fatally shot Versypt in a stairway at the Broadway Condominiums in southeast Iowa City as he tried to steal Versypt’s wallet.
“I attempted to take something from him, precisely his wallet, and he didn’t give it up,” Marshall said. “My intention wasn’t to kill him. My intention was to scare him off with the gun.”
Marshall was convicted of first-degree murder for Versypt’s death in 2013, but his conviction was overturned. The Iowa Supreme Court then ruled in a split decision last year that he should get a new trial because authorities relied on the testimony of a jailhouse informant, violating Marshall’s right to an attorney.
The case upheld court precedent that jailhouse informants violate a defendant’s rights when the informant is working on behalf of police or prosecutors to get information about a crime.
In Marshall’s case, the Iowa Supreme Court noted there were no eyewitnesses or physical evidence against him, and the case centered on jailhouse informants. At the behest of officials, a jailhouse informant placed in a cell next to Marshall’s convinced him to write down details in which Marshall admitted to accidentally shooting the landlord.