Update (December 20, 2019): Just one day after a judge surprisingly threw out a hate crime charge, Sean Urbanski was convicted of stabbing Black Army lieutenant Richard Collins III to death.
The former University of Maryland student stabbed Collins in May 2017 and was convicted of first-degree murder on Wednesday after just two hours of deliberation.
Collins was just days away from graduating from Bowie State before being killed. The Washington Post reported that jury members returned the verdict quickly in response to Judge Lawrence Hill’s decision to dismiss the hate crime charge.
The case has sparked anger across the nation as lawyers have argued whether Urbanski’s extensive online activity in white supremacy groups should be allowed as evidence in his trial.
Collins’ mother and father were outraged on Tuesday when Judge Hill struck down the hate crime charge, claiming prosecutors failed to prove that Urbanski had committed the crime solely for racial reasons.
A bus load of people came from Annapolis to show support to the family of Richard Collins III. They tell us they are devastated by the judge’s decision to drop the hate crime count against Sean Urbanski. @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) December 17, 2019
Urbanski was a member of the Alt Reich Nation Facebook group. He stabbed Collins who was standing next to a white friend and an Asian friend at a bus stop on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus.
Original (May 22, 2017): It's a sad day for the family of 23- year-old Richard Collins III who were set to watch him walk the graduation stage on Tuesday. A day that they will sadly never see.
Collins was fatally stabbed by a University of Maryland student early Saturday morning in what is believed to be a hate crime. University of Maryland student Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault in the death of Richard Collins III.
Collins was a senior at nearby Bowie State University and was set to graduate on Tuesday, and he was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
NBC Washington reports that University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said at a press conference Sunday that he sought the FBI's help after finding that Urbanski is a member of a Facebook group called "Alt-Reich: Nation," where members post racially charged material. Urbanski is white and Collins was black.
"Suffice it to say that it's despicable. It shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African Americans," Mitchell said.
According to court documents, Collins was visiting with two friends on the UMD campus around 3 a.m. Saturday. He was waiting for the University's shuttle bus, however, realizing the shuttle had stopped running, they decided to call an Uber. Upon waiting for its arrival, the three heard Urbanski screaming nearby.
Collins and his friends watched Urbanski as he approached them. According to court documents, Urbanski said, "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," and a confused Collins responded "No." Urbanski continued to approach the students, pulled out a knife with a 3- to 4-inch silver blade and stabbed Collins once in the chest, the documents said.
One of Collins' friends called 911 and asked the Uber driver to call for an ambulance. Witnesses aided Collins until police and medics arrived. Two Prince George's County police officers found Urbanski sitting on a bench at a bus stop about 50 feet from where Collins had collapsed. Witnesses identified him as the suspect and he was taken into custody at the university's police department, documents said.
Urbanski is being held without bond.
This attack has undoubtedly sparked fear on the University of Maryland campus. Why something so hateful and unnecessary can still happen in this day in age is sickening. The family and friends of Collins have to put him away when they should be celebrating his graduation. The Bowie State family is also heavily affected by the loss of one of their own.
We know that racism has never gone away, but to see it acted upon in such a disgusting and cowardice way as murder is heartbreaking. All we can hope is that justice will be served and the family of Collins can find some type of peace.