ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The 2017 murder of a Bowie State student has pushed his family to advocate for stronger hate crime laws in Maryland.
Richard Collins III was just days shy of graduating from Bowie State University and had just been commissioned into the army when he was killed visiting friends in College Park.READ MORE: $8K Reward Offered For Tips In Furrow Street Homicide Case
Sean Urbanski was convicted of first-degree murder for stabbing Collins, but the judge threw out a hate crime charge that prosecutors had charged, based on Urbanski’s membership in racist Facebook groups and material on his phone.
“I beseech the state of Maryland to correct this so that no other mother has to feel the daily pain I feel,” said Richard’s mother, Dawn Collins.
Collins’ parents turned their pain in court into testimony on Tuesday to state lawmakers, who feel the hate crime laws need to be strengthened.
“He was targeted solely because of his color. They didn’t know each other,” said Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles County).
“We believe that was an error, but we understand statutes sometimes need to be amended to make it clear what the legislature intended,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.READ MORE: Baltimore Police Looking To Identify Suspect In Hustler Club Shooting
Collins was 23 years old, and the only black person at the bus stop when Urbanski stabbed him.
“Don’t let another mother feel the pain that I feel daily.” Dawn Collins said.
Advocates with the Southern Poverty Law Center said it’s critical hate be called out when it happens.
“There should be extra penalties when it’s motivated by the color of someone’s skin, their sexual orientation, their gender,” said Karen Baynes-Dunning, with the center.
For Collins’ parents, a bill named after their son, pushing to close the apparent loophole, is the next step in their journey.
“It’s the thing we owe to our son’s legacy,” said Richard’s father, Rick Collins.MORE NEWS: Prettyboy Elementary Teacher Melissa Salkeld Wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award
That bill in the Senate committee spells out a hate crime if a person is “motivated either in who or in part” by a person’s race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or homeless status.