Travis Standlee will stand trial in second murder case

Trial moved to Scott County due to publicity

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A homeless man convicted and serving up to 50 years in prison for killing another Cedar Rapids homeless man will now be tried for a second strangulation death of a woman in 2015.

Travis Standlee, 44, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sharon Mead, 41, whose body was found Sept. 11 near Coe College. A criminal complaint shows Mead and Raymond Ursino, 56, both were strangled and had “strikingly similar injuries.”

During a hearing on Friday, attorneys said the trial will begin Oct. 24 in Scott County District Court. The defense asked the court to move this trial out of Linn County based on pretrial publicity to ensure Standlee receive a fair and impartial jury.

Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady ruled the prosecution cannot mention the first murder conviction. The defense asked the court to make that ruling, since these are being prosecuted separately.

The trial is expected to go four or five days, attorneys said.

Standlee plans to claim diminished capacity and/or intoxication as a defense, Doug Davis, Standlee’s lawyer, said.

According to testimony, Standlee, who was also homeless, got into a fight with Ursino 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.

Standlee, charged with first-degree murder but convicted of second-degree murder in June, was released from jail after being arrested in the Ursino death because Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said police didn’t have enough evidence to charge him and asked police to continue the investigation.

After Mead’s death, Standlee was arrested Sept. 22 at a homeless shelter in Des Moines and charged in both deaths. The complaint shows police found fingerprints on a can near Mead’s body.

Standlee, during sentencing in Ursino’s murder, said he had no memory of killing anyone and had no memory of Ursino.

One of Ursino’s sisters in a victim’s impact statement called Standlee a “coldblooded killer” and another sister forgave him because she knew he would have to live with taking her brother’s life.

In the Ursino conviction, Standlee must serve a mandatory 35 years before being eligible for parole.

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