VanHemert Jury Expected to Receive Case Monday

Stanley VanHemert listens to the testimony of his son Luke on Friday morning.

 

By RD KEEP

The Sun

 

After four days the jury in the Luke VanHemert murder trial will have two and half days before hearing closing arguments and receiving the case for deliberations. Eleven prosecution witnesses provided insight into the events of March 1, 2018 that occurred on North Third Street that resulted in the death of 22-year old Marquis Todd.

Todd’s death came about as a result of an incident between two vehicles in which Todd was not present. According to testimony Todd’s friend Mikeal Donaldson had left Todd and D’Angelo Allen on the campus of William Penn University to go to Jiffy Mart for some snacks and a drink. On the way his Chevrolet Malibu encountered VanHemert’s Jeep on North Third not far from the VanHemert residence. The two cars scraped each other and, according to Donaldson, VanHemert and a passenger in the vehicle Elijah Marcus jumped out of the Jeep and yelled, “What the **** is going on?” Marcus slapped the hood with his hands and Donaldson began to back down the hill, turn around and headed north.

Donaldson said he turned onto K Avenue East and stopped near a store at the corner of North Market and K Avenue, gathered his thoughts, and turned around to continue on to Jiffy. As he went up the street He said his car was struck with a brick in the passenger side of the windshield shattering it and putting a hole. Marcus said he grabbed a tree branch and threw at the driver’s side cracking the window.

There was some dispute as to which direction the car was going and the timeline of the throwing. VanHemert claimed the car was going north when he threw the piece of concrete. Donaldson said he was scared and mad.

According to testimony Donaldson returned to campus, told Allen and Todd of the incident and proceeded back to North Third to find the Jeep and, “See who was going to pay for the damage.” Allen also said all they wanted to do is find out who was going to pay for the damage.

The three got out of the car at the VanHemert residence and approached the individuals who were at the time including Marcus and Luke’s father Stanley VanHemert. There were several variations of the actual sequence of events made by the various testimonies, but all of them led to Todd and Luke VanHemert in a fight on the lawn in front of the house.

Stanley said Todd followed him as he was on the phone calling 911, however when the call was played in court Stanley told the dispatcher that the three were leaving and one was injured. Donaldson, who was near the end of the drive, said Allen and Marcus were “scuffling” as was Todd and Luke. All of a sudden Todd reportedly yelled, “I’ve been tased, I’ve been tased.” It was at that point he stumbled toward the car and Allen and Donaldson got him in the car and they proceeded south reaching the Jiffy some four blocks away stopping when police lights pulled them over.

All the parties said the entire fight lasted just a few minutes from the time the trio from William Penn arrived until they got in the car to leave.

During defense testimony, Stanley VanHemert said he told Luke and Marcus to get the drug paraphernalia out of the house. He said he expected the police to be coming. Whether the items were removed by a family friend Jeff Beard before or after the fight was somewhat in question. All said Beard was in the car at the time of the accident but had no role in the confrontation.

Stanley said he learned from Luke he had stabbed Todd the following day after Luke’s interview with Department of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Don Schnikter. Luke stated in his testimony that after the men left he ran to the north end of old community stadium and tossed the pocket knife he used over the fence in an area that was under construction at the time then returned to the residence.

The knife was never recovered although a knife belonging to Beard was found south of the VanHermet residence, but was not considered the murder weapon. Luke Van Hemert admitted he had the pocket knife in his pocket and while Todd was on top of him, opened it up and stabbed him to try to get him to stop hitting him.

Dr. Dennis Klein with the state medical examiner’s office and who performed the autopsy, said there were three stab wounds. One was to the left should that was 2-inches deep into the muscle, the second was on the inside of Todd’s left arm halfway between the elbow and the shoulder that penetrated the arm and came out the underside, a length of approximately 4 inches. Klein said the fatal wound was to the right ventricle of the heart where the knife penetrated beside the left nipple.

He ruled the death a homicide and the cause of death was a stab to the chest.

“He died at the hands of another person,” said Klein.

Other prosecution witnesses included Lt. John Plumb and Lt. Gary McClun of the Oskaloosa Police Department, Todd’s father Malcom Turner, neighbor Trinity Shafer, criminologist with the crime lab Ryan Petruccelli and Beard. Marcus and VanHemerts appeared for the defense.

Monday morning will be closing arguments and jury instructions before the jury will begin deliberations.