During a candlelit vigil Friday night after a game, teammates and university officials remembered Marquis Todd for his infectious smile. Todd was fatally stabbed the day before, police said.
An Oskaloosa man accused of killing a college basketball player in a fight following a minor traffic accident says he was defending himself.
Luke VanHemert, 23, is charged with second-degree murder in the March 1 stabbing death of Marquis Todd, 22, a starter on William Penn University’s men’s basketball team. VanHemert was arrested March 14.
The claim of self-defense comes in a court document filed Thursday requesting that a judge lower VanHemert’s $500,000 bond.
“The incident that led to this charge was an act of self-defense, which occurred on the defendant’s property, after the alleged victim left the scene of the first confrontation and later returned,” the court filing states. “As such, the defendant does not pose a serious risk to the public as a whole.”
Authorities believe the car carrying Todd and his two friends returned to the scene of the car crash — which was outside VanHemert’s house at 603 N. Third St. — three times on the night of March 1, and that a fight broke out on the third trip back.
A 911 call regarding a fight at VanHemert’s address was placed at about 10:50 p.m., according to court documents. Minutes later, officers found Todd, a Woodridge, Illinois, native, with friends at a nearby Jiffy Mart gas station.
Marquis Todd. (Photo: Special to the Register)
He was taken to a hospital for a stab wound to his chest and died shortly afterward. His body was then transported to the medical examiner’s office in Ankeny for an autopsy, where his death was ruled a homicide.
Todd had not met those involved in the fight before the crash, investigators said earlier this month.
VanHemert’s request for bond review says he has lived in Oskaloosa for most of his life, has limited financial resources and is not a flight risk.
If released on a lower bond, VanHemert would attend all his court hearings, would continue to live with his father, Stanley VanHemert, at the same Oskaloosa address and would resume his job at Taco Bell in Pella, the document states.
An Oskaloosa man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of basketball player Marquis Todd.
Stephen Gruber-Miller/The Register
His lawyers say VanHemert “is cognizant of the gravity of the charges against him and is eager to prove his innocence via his participation in the criminal justice process.”
VanHemert’s criminal record in Iowa includes a deferred judgment tied to a drug case in 2013 and a guilty plea to tampering the same year.
If convicted of second-degree murder, VanHemert faces up to 50 years in prison.
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