UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) — A judge dropped the hate crime charge against Sean Urbanski—a white former University of Maryland College Park student on trial for the murder of African American Bowie State University student Lt. Richard Collins III.

Collins’ mother broke down and wept following the decision.

“The mother collapsed,” said Dr. L. E. Gomez who was among the people who packed the courtroom to support the Collins family.

 

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The judge, Lawrence Hill, said the racist images from the Alt Reich Nation Facebook group found on Urbanski’s phone were troubling, but the state did not meet its burden of proof that the crime was solely motivated by hate.

“What message does this send?” Dr. Gomez asked outside the courthouse in Prince George’s County.

The killing happened in May 2017 at a bus stop on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus while Collins was visiting a friend.

Charles James, Sr. is among a busload of people from Annapolis—part of the Caucus of African American Leaders—who came to observe the proceedings. He said he was “hurt” by the acquittal on the hate crime charge. “I’ll be honest with you. I’m kind of disgusted,” he said.

The prosecutor called the Alt Reich Nation a “white supremacist group no different than the KKK” while the defense noted the group’s self-description as “controversial humor.”

“This was a targeted attack on Lt. Collins because he was African American,” said deputy state’s attorney Jonathon Church.

No witnesses testified that Urbanski made any comments about race when he stabbed Collins.

Urbanski’s acquaintance Akshay Lingayat was with him shortly before the killing. “I saw him punching a light post. I believe he was blackout drunk,” Lingayat testified. “He was mentally checked out, stressed out, annoyed, upset.”

 

“We believe there’s no evidence of a race-based killing. …He did not single out Richard Collins as the state indicated,” defense attorney John McKenna told the judge.

The defense argues Urbanski was too drunk to form the intent required for first degree murder. They showed surveillance video of him inside his holding cell shortly after the killing—rambling incoherently, singing and even urinating there—as evidence of his intoxication.

The defense also presented two experts. Neither had personally examined Urbanski. 

A forensic toxicologist estimated Collins’ blood alcohol content may have been two to three times the legal limit at the time of the stabbing. Eight hours afterward, tests showed he had .10 percent alcohol in his bloodstream. 

An expert in forensic psychology testified about the impact alcohol has on a person’s brain and decision-making skills.

Urbanski chose not to testify in his own defense. Jurors will hear closing arguments and are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday.

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