Van Hemert trial

Photo by RD Keep

Luke Van Hemert sits with attorneys Nicole Jensen and Allen Cook III on the second day of the trial.

OSKALOOSA — Two former William Penn basketball players took the stand as the trial of Luke Ryan VanHemert, 24, the man charged with second-degree murder of William Penn student and player Marquis Todd. Mikeal Donaldson and D’Angelo Allen took the stand Wednesday morning.

Judge Lucy Gamon presided as the jury of 10 women and four men listened intently as seven witnesses for the prosecution took the stand. Much of Donaldson and Allen’s testimony related to the events that occurred at 603 N. Third St. in Oskaloosa at approximately 10 p.m. on March 1, 2018. The address is the home of VanHemert.

Testimony revealed the confrontation that occurred that night resulted from a minor collision.

Donaldson told prosecutor Andrew Prosser that he, Allen and Todd were good friends and played basketball at William Penn. That night they were playing video games in Todd’s room in the Twin Towers at the university. Donaldson decided to drive to the Jiffy Mart, 315 A Avenue East, and pick up snacks and something to drink. He said left Penn traveling south on Market to K Avenue East then turned south on North Third.

“I was behind a Jeep that was going about 10 miles per hour so I went around it and they cut me off,” said Donaldson. “I moved back over and they slowed down so I tried to go around them again and they cut me off again.”

Prosser asked him what he did next and he said he backed up the street for about a block and did a 3-point turn and went back to K Avenue, turned the corner and stopped near what is known as Fins ‘n' Things.

“My adrenaline was running and just thought maybe they would be gone,” said Donaldson.

He said he turned around and went back to Third Street heading to Jiffy Mart. As he went up the street near 603 North Third he said, “Someone threw a rock at my windshield then the defendant hit the window with a pole.”

Photos were shown with a large hole in the passenger side of the windshield and a large crack on the driver’s side. Donaldson said he made another 3-point turn and returned to campus where he told Todd and Allen of the incident. The three got into Donaldson’s car and returned to North Third looking for the silver Jeep.

“I went back to the dorm to get Marquis and DA and planned to go back and see who was going to pay for my car,” said Donaldson. “There was an older guy (Stanley VanHemert) out there and I asked who was going to pay for my car and he walked away.”

Donaldson went on to say Todd then asked the older man where he was going and what he was doing.

“He had a phone in his hand, but no weapon,” Donaldson emphasized.

He also stated he, Todd and Allen had no weapons nor had any in the car. He sated no when both Prosser and defense attorney Allen Cook III asked if they had tossed any out.

Donaldson and Allen both said they saw Todd and Ryan VanHemert scuffling and Todd was on top then got up and yelled, “I got tased. I got tased.” Donaldson and Allen helped Todd to the car and said he was making snoring noises then passed out. They put him in the backseat and left the residence headed south.

“The cops turned on their lights and I pulled into the Jiffy,” said Donaldson.

Both Donaldson and Allen related that was where police pointed guns at them, searched for weapons and began asking questions. It was also at the Jiffy they learned that Todd had died of his injuries.

In cross-examination, Cook asked why Donaldson went to Jiffy rather than the Kum n Go which was just a few blocks from the university. Donaldson responded the prices were cheaper at Jiffy. Cook asked why not go to the Jiffy via North Market and A Avenue asserting that would be a more direct route. Donaldson responded he thought it would be faster.

Allen and Donaldson both said neither thought of calling the police prior to the incident at the VanHemert residence. Donaldson also stated he was unaware his Malibu had hit VanHemert’s Jeep. Evidence showed what appeared to be damage on VanHermert’s vehicle on the driver’s side and on the passenger side of Donaldson’s. This would be consistent with Donaldson’s claim of trying to pass them on the left side.

The only injuries suffered by Donaldson and Allen, was a scrape on a knuckle of Donaldson’s hand. He said he received it when he punched a wall at Jiffy when he learned of Todd’s death.

Testimony will resume Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

RD Keep is the editor at the New Sharon Sun and is covering the proceedings in partnership with The Oskaloosa Herald.