A white man was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for stabbing a Black college student to death on the University of Maryland's campus in what prosecutors say was a racially motivated crime.
Richard Collins III was days away from graduating from Bowie State University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army when he was killed in May 2017. He was 23.
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Collins was waiting at a University of Maryland bus stop when Sean Urbanski walked up, told him to "step left," then stabbed him in the chest.
In December 2019, a Prince George’s County jury convicted Urbanski, now 25, of first-degree murder.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said in a statement that Urbanski was a member of a racist social media group and singled Collins out for the attack at a bus stop.
Prosecutors have said that a mixture of alcohol and racist propaganda motivated Urbanski to act on a hatred for Black people.
Defense attorney John McKenna said in court that his client was drunk and there was no evidence or testimony to support a racial motive for the killing.
A judge dismissed a hate crime charge against Urbanski before jurors began deliberating, ruling that prosecutors didn't meet their legal burden of showing that racial hatred motivated Urbanski to stab Collins.
In a law named for Collins, Maryland recently strengthened its hate crime law so prosecutors don’t have to prove hate was the only motivating factor in committing a crime.