CEDAR RAPIDS — Rita Ursino Walker said Travis Standlee “maliciously strangled to death” her brother Raymond Ursino and then laid down beside him.
“I’m very angry and I can’t stop thinking about Travis Standlee,” Walker wrote in her victim’s impact statement delivered by a Horizons Survivors’ Program advocate during Standlee’s sentencing on Friday in Linn County District Court. “He’s a cold-blooded killer and deserves the harshest penalty.”
Another sister of Ursino, Joy Lacayo, looked at Standlee as she read her statement, telling him she chose to forgive him. She said nothing would bring back her brother and she feels “sorrow and pity for you because you must live with your actions that took Raymond from us.”
“Ray was a good man and we were close,” Ursino’s brother Randall told the court in his statement. “This has left a whole in my heart. This crime wasn’t warranted or necessary. Ray wouldn’t have hurt anyone.”
Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady sentenced Standlee, 44, to up to 50 years in prison. He must serve a mandatory 35 years before being eligible for parole.
He was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to Ursino’s estate.
Standlee, originally charged with first-degree murder, was convicted by a jury in June of second-degree murder. According to testimony, Standlee, who was also homeless, got into a fight with Ursino, 56, of Cedar Rapids, and strangled him to death in the early morning hours of Sept. 5 in the parking lot at First Presbyterian Church, 310 Fifth St. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids. A video of the attack was shown to the jury during trial.
Ursino died from manual or hand strangulation, according to a medical examiner who testified during the trial.
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Standlee said during Friday’s hearing he has no memory of killing anyone and had no memory of Ursino, and it made him “sad.” It was his habit to ask someone “their story” and he hoped he asked Ursino but doesn’t know.
“It breaks my heart that I can’t remember,” he said.
Standlee admitted to causing Ursino’s death but he doesn’t remember strangling him and he can’t believe he did because it’s “not my nature.” He expressed hope that in the next life he meets Ursino and they become friends.
Standlee also faces a first-degree murder charge in the strangulation death of Sharon Mead, 41, whose body was found Sept. 11 near Coe College. That trial is set for Oct. 24 and has been moved to Scott County District Court. According to a criminal complaint, Ursino and Mead both were strangled and had “strikingly similar injuries.” Police found fingerprints on a can near Mead’s body. Standlee was arrested Sept. 22 at a homeless shelter in Des Moines and charged in both deaths.
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