VanHemert Found Guilty

Luke VanHemert is led from the Mahaska County Courthouse Monday afternoon after being convicted of second- degree murder.

It took a jury of nine women and three men about two and a half hours Monday morning to deliver a verdict of guilty in the second-degree murder trial of Luke Ryan VanHemert, 24, of Oskaloosa. The verdict wrapped up three days of testimony and two days of attorney statements and brought some closure to the community in the death of Marquis Todd, a former William Penn student.

As the jury and gallery packed the Mahaska County courtroom in Oskaloosa Monday, it was the final chance for prosecution attorney Andrew Prosser and defense counsel Allen Cook III to make their respective case. Monday opened with Eighth District Court Judge Lucy Gamon reading some 40- plus instructions to the jury as to what their responsibilities would be in deliberating.

Those instructions were followed by statements by Prosser and Cook. Just before noon the jury received the case and Judge Gamon, Luke VanHemert and Prosser were notified of a unanimous verdict about 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Emotions were high as court attendant Kim Andeway prepared to read the verdict. A strong show of law enforcement was present as well.

VanHemert put his head into his hands and shed tears as did some family members. Members of the Todd family breathed a sigh of relief.

Read the full story in the April 17 edition of the paper.