VanHemert Receives Maximum Sentence, Plans Appeal


Luke VanHemert, the Oskaloosa man convicted in April of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of William Penn University basketball player Marquis Todd, received the maximum possible sentence in Mahaska County Court.

Judge Lucy Gamon last Friday sentenced VanHemert to 50 years in state prison. Under Iowa law, VanHemert must serve at least 70% of his sentence, or 35 years, before he is eligible for parole. His attorney filed motions requesting a new trial and an arrest in judgement, but on Tuesday, Judge Gamon denied both of those motions.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Allen Cook notified the court that VanHemert plans to take his case to the Iowa Court of Appeals. Cook then withdrew from the case, meaning VanHemert will have a different public defender guiding his appeal process.

VanHemert admitted in court to stabbing Todd during a fight in the front yard of the VanHemert home on March 1st of last year. He claimed to have acted in self-defense, but a Mahaska County jury rejected that defense and found him guilty of second-degree murder on April 15th. VanHemert’s family has said they hoped he might be found guilty of a lesser charge such as manslaughter.


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