Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man pleads to fatal assault at Greene Square

Troy Wilson faces up to 15 years in prison

Troy Wilson confers with public defender David Grinde while making his initial appearance via video July 3 in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. Wilson, 47, on Friday pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the June death of Scott Dexter, 38, of Cedar Rapids, in Greene Square. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Troy Wilson confers with public defender David Grinde while making his initial appearance via video July 3 in Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids. Wilson, 47, on Friday pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the June death of Scott Dexter, 38, of Cedar Rapids, in Greene Square. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man pleaded guilty Friday to a lesser charge in the fatal assault of a man last summer in Greene Square.

Troy Wilson, 47, originally charge with second-degree murder, pleaded guilty in Linn County District Court to involuntary manslaughter as a habitual offender.

Wilson admitted to “intentionally” striking Scott Dexter, 38, of Cedar Rapids, in the head June 5 while both were at the park.

A criminal complaint shows Wilson left Dexter unconscious in a grassy area near the spiral sculpture on the Third Avenue SE side of the park.

Dexter was taken to UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, but doctors found no sign of brain activity. He died shortly after being taken off life support June 9, according to court documents.

Witnesses in the park told police that a man, later identified as Wilson, hit Dexter in the head without provocation, according to the complaint.

Wilson initially denied involvement but eventually admitted he intentionally struck Dexter in the head after hearing him argue with another person, according to the complaint.

The state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

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After the hearing, Dale Beeks of Mount Vernon, Dexter’s stepfather, told The Gazette he thought it was fair plea agreement.

“I have no ill will toward him,” Beeks said. “Everybody was inebriated that day. It’s tough to lay blame. I felt sorry for that nobody was there for him (Wilson) today at the hearing.”

Beeks previously told The Gazette that Dexter, whose organs were donated to four people, had dealt with mental health, drug and alcohol problems.

Dexter, he said, also didn’t have stable housing and had been in and out of trouble with the law, though he had been regularly employed as a professional cook.

Beeks said he had tried to get his stepson to get help, but he didn’t follow through. Dexter, he said, was kindhearted and would rather “give stuff away to people than pay his own rent.”

Beeks said Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden had informed him of the plea agreement to make sure he understood it.

Vander Sanden did not return emails Friday seeking comment.

Beeks also said he was happy to see that something good come out of his stepson’s death, with safety improvements made to the park — banning alcohol and installing 24-hour surveillance cameras to help deter crime.

Police said in October the number of incidents at Greene Square had dropped significantly after the assault and after more foot patrols were added.

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Beeks previously said he had learned from conversations with police and a witness that a woman had been making accusations against Dexter.

The situation escalated into an angry crowd “yelling and shouting.” Eventually, Beeks said, his stepson was hit once by a “guy built like Mike Tyson.”

Wilson faces up to 15 years in prison and has to serve a mandatory three years before being eligible for parole. Wilson has previous convictions for burglary and firearm violations. Sentencing is set for Feb. 20 in Linn County District Court.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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