Oskaloosa, IA - An Oskaloosa, Iowa man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a college basketball player last year.
A Mahaska County jury Monday convicted 24-year-old Luke VanHemert, who argued that he was defending himself when he fatally stabbed 22-year-old William Penn player Marquis Todd in March 2018.
Authorities have said they believe a car carrying Todd and two friends returned to the scene of a car crash outside Van Hemert's Oskaloosa house three times on the night of March 1, 2018, and that a fight broke out on the third trip back.
Van Hemert claimed in the motion that Todd, who was 6 feet, 10 inches tall, was on top of him during the altercation and that it was clear that the group of men came to the house "looking for a fight."
Iowa’s “stand your ground” law, enacted in 2017, says a person doesn’t have to retreat before using deadly force if he or she reasonably thinks his or her life is being threatened.
A judge had rejected VanHemert’s “stand your ground defense.” He was taken back to the Mahaska County Jail, where he will await sentencing at a later date.
A second-degree murder conviction carries up to 50 years in prison.
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