OSKALOOSA — Luke VanHemert was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for the death of a William Penn student.
VanHemert was found guilty of murder in the second degree, a Class B felony, this past spring. VanHemert stabbed William Penn University student Marquis Todd in 2018. Todd died as a result.
During judging and sentencing on July 26, VanHemert was sentenced "to an indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed 50 years." That means he could serve the maximum possible sentence.
The entire incident began with a car accident in March 2018, one in which Todd was not involved. Authorities concluded the fight took place the third time the car Todd was in returned to the scene of the crash.
A jury took less than three hours to convict VanHemert, after three days of testimony and two days of opening and closing statements this past April. During the trial VanHemert’s defense said he was acting in self-defense. It unsuccessfully asked the court to throw out the case, citing Iowa’s stand your ground law.
Prosecutors pointed out that VanHemert said he threw the knife used in the stabbing into a construction site, and it was never found. Testimony also showed VanHemert threw a piece of concrete at a passing car prior to the stabbing, striking a passenger window.
The court also ordered restitution totaling $150,000 to the victim's estate or heirs, in addition to fine, penalties and surcharges, and $1,645.50 in restitution to the State for the victim's autopsy.
VanHemert is not eligible for bond on appeal.