BOWIE, Md. (WJZ) — The family of Richard Collins III wants an expansion of Maryland’s hate crime law following a jury finding their son’s killer guilty of first-degree murder.

“Absolutely, we will do something,” said the victim’s mother Dawn Collins. 

Collins, a Bowie State University student, was murdered on the University of Maryland College Park campus in 2017 while visiting friends.

Police found racist memes on the phone of his murderer, Sean Urbanski. Urbanski was also a member of Alt Reich Nation, a racist Facebook group. Prosecutors argued there was a “direct connection” between those memes and his stabbing. They said Urbanski “poisoned his mind” and “targeted” Collins because of the color of his skin.

 

Urbanski’s lawyers said their client did not target Collins and blamed his “out of control” drunkenness.

The day before the verdict, Judge Lawrence Hill dropped the hate crime charge against Urbanski. He said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof in the case. 

Judge Hill said Maryland law requires hate to be the sole motive in the crime for the charge to stand.

Because of that, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said she will push Maryland’s General Assembly to broaden the hate crime statute. Collins’ mother and father said they would provide Braveboy whatever help she needs. 

Braveboy said hate should not have to be the only factor for the charge to stand.

“We want to make it clear that anyone committing an offense, whether it’s the only reason or one of many reasons, that individual should be held accountable and should be able to be charged with a hate crime,” Braveboy said.

There have been several racist incidents on Maryland College campuses this year.

 

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The FBI showed a small rise in hate incidents during 2018, the last year for which figures are available. There were 48 incidents in 2017 and 49 in 2018.

 

This year, Maryland lawmakers already expanded the hate crime statute to make threats of hate illegal.

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