UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) — A jury found Sean Urbanski guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the May 2017 killing of 23-year-old Richard Collins, III. Collins was days from graduating from Bowie State University when he was killed.

The killing happened on the University of Maryland College Park campus. Prosecutors in the high-profile case argued that Urbanski, who is white, killed Collins because he is African American.

 

“We appreciate all the support that we’ve received during this difficult time in our lives,” Collins’ father told reporters following the verdict.

His son, a Bowie State University student recently commissioned into the Army, was waiting at a bus stop after a night celebrating with friends in College Park.

 

Urbanski approached Collins, his friend Blake Bender and acquaintance Amanda Lee. They testified he yelled three times, “Step left. Step left if you know what’s best for you.” He then stabbed Collins with a three-inch pocket knife. 

 

Defense attorneys argued Urbanski was drunk at the time. A test eight hours later showed a .10 percent blood alcohol level. A defense expert witness testified that at the time of the stabbing Urbanski may have been drunk two to three times the legal limit. “I’m sorry our client got so drunk that he took somebody’s life,” defense attorney John McKenna said. “…The poison wasn’t hate. It was alcohol. He committed a crime he could barely remember and that he regrets.”

 

McKenna asked jurors to consider second-degree murder. He said Urbanski was “a stupid, drunk college kid” and was too intoxicated to premeditate the crime. Second-degree murder carries a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

 

McKenna argued the killing was not based on race.

“Sean’s not on trial for being bigoted or being racially insensitive,” McKenna told jurors. “He’s on trial for murder. …Not a single witness came here and said he’s racist. How in the world is hate the motive?”

 

The state showed jurors racist memes saved in Urbanski’s phone and his membership in the Alt Reich Nation Facebook group. 

 

Prosecutor Jonathon Church told jurors in his closing argument, “[Urbanski] dehumanized blacks by poisoning his mind. He dehumanized them and made them lesser than himself, which made it easy to drive that knife into Collins’ chest.”

 

Judge Lawrence Hill dropped the hate crime charge against Urbanski the day before the case went to the jury because he said the state failed to meet the burden of proof that the crime was solely motivated by Collins’ race.

 

“Regardless of whether that particular count was struck or not, the reality was that this case was always about intolerance. It was always about hate,“ said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.

Judge Drops Hate Crime Against Sean Urbanski; Murder Charges Stand

Braveboy—a former delegate—and the Collins family said they planned to advocate for reforms to strengthen Maryland’s hate crime law before the General Assembly next year.

Urbanski is from Anne Arundel County. His family declined comment after the verdict. He will be sentenced April 16th, and Braveboy told WJZ she plans to ask the judge for the maximum punishment.

Comments

Leave a Reply