VanHemert Convicted of 2nd Degree Murder

By Jason Van Arkel, April 15, 2019

A Mahaska County jury on Monday found Luke VanHemert guilty of second degree murder in the stabbing death of former William Penn basketball player Marquis Todd. The 24-year-old VanHemert faces a sentence of up to 50 years in prison.

During his trial, VanHemert did not dispute that he stabbed Todd on the night of March 1, 2018, during a fight at the home where VanHemert lived. He had claimed self-defense, saying Todd and two of his teammates had come onto the property that night, looking for retribution after VanHemert and friend Eli Marcus smashed the windshield of Mikeal Donaldson’s car. Donaldson, whose car had been involved in a minor traffic accident with VanHemert’s a little earlier in the evening, returned to the scene with Todd and fellow teammate D’Angelo Allen.

Much of the prosecution’s case for second degree murder centered around VanHemert’s actions after the accident, saying his angry response and escalating acts of violence provoked the fight. The defense attempted to argue that the players escalated the conflict by returning to the VanHemert home after Donaldson had left, and that VanHemert only confronted Todd because Todd had aggressively approached VanHemert’s father in the front yard.

Todd’s mother and stepfather appeared to sit stoically as the verdict was read, although other supporters of Todd wept quietly. VanHemert was in tears after hearing the verdict rendered against him, as were several members of his family.

Judge Lucy Gamon remanded VanHemert into custody, and said sentencing would take place in roughly 12 weeks. He has the right to file a motion within 30 days to request a new trial, or to file within 45 days to request an arrest of judgment.


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