Jury Selected in VanHemert Trial



The Sun


More than six-dozen persons crowded into Mahaska County District Court Tuesday morning to select 12 jurors and two alternates for the second-degree murder trial of Luke Ryan VanHemert. Selection took about four hors followed by opening statements from both sides.

VanHemert is accused to have stabbed William Penn student Marquis Todd in an altercation on March 1, 2018. Todd succumbed from those injuries that night. Nearly half of the jury pool answered questions from Assistant Iowa District Attorney Andrew Prosser and defense counsel Allen Cook III before the final 14 were seated. The jury of nine women and four men began by listening to Prosser read the trial information, which contained the basic facts of the case, then began laying out what he and Mahaska County Attorney Andrew Ritland will bring forth.

VanHemert, dressed in black suit coat and pants, white shirt, and dark striped tie listened to the proceedings occasionally consulting his defense team of Nicole Jensen and Cook.

Prosser said the State’s case must show the burden of proof in four areas, 1. On March 1 VanHemert stabbed Todd; 2. Todd died of the stab wounds; 3. VanHemert acted with malice and aforethought in slaying Todd; and 4. Prove the stabbing was not justified.

Cook told the jurors that Todd died from bad decisions made by himself and friends, Mikeal Donaldson and D’Angelo Allen. He said the fender-bender that initiated the confrontation occurred without Todd involved. He died following an altercation at VanHemert’s home on North Third Street in Oskaloosa.

Cook opened his statements by expressing sympathy on behalf of VanHemert and the defense team to Todd’s family. Todd’s family and friends came into the courtroom just after the lunch break. Some William Penn students were sporting black Marquis Todd shirts in support of the family.

The trial will resume at 9a.m. Wednesday. A comlete recap of the proceedings will be in the April 18 edition of The Sun.

RD Keep is the editor of the New Sharon Sun and is covering the trial in partnership with The Oskaloosa Herald. He may be reached at nssun@iowatelecom.net.