A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge sentenced Sean Urbanski to life in prison Thursday for the 2017 stabbing death of Richard Collins III on the University of Maryland campus in College Park.
Urbanski, 25, a former student at Maryland and who’s white, stabbed Collins, who’s Black, at a bus stop while Collins visited friends on the campus.
Collins, 23, was commissioned in the Army and was scheduled to graduate at nearby Bowie State University days later.
Judge Lawrence Hill read letters and heard impact statements during a virtual court hearing from Collins’ parents and relatives, who wanted Urbanski to remain in prison without the possibility of parole.
His parents, Dawn and Richard Collins Jr., presented raw emotions in court and mentioned how their son’s grandfather, Richard Collins Sr., also was murdered by a white man in North Carolina in 1954. He also served in the military.
“In my opinion, my son’s greatest crime was he said ‘no’ to a white man,” Dawn Collins said. “I don’t have a broken heart. I have a shattered heart. There are no words to describe the pain that I feel.”
According to court documents, Urbanski walked over to Collins and two friends, one white and one Asian, at a bus stop on the campus at about 3 a.m. on May 20, 2017.
Urbanski demanded Collins move to “step left if you know what’s best for you,” according to court records. Police said he stabbed Collins who later died from his injuries.
Law enforcement officials found racist memes on Urbanski’s cellphone and he belonged to a white supremacist Facebook group, Alt-Reich: Nation.
At Thursday’s hearing, Urbanski’s attorney, John McKenna, said his client’s blood-alcohol content was at least .20.
In addition to first-degree murder, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy also sought hate crime charges for Urbanski.
A jury found Urbanski guilty of first-degree murder, a judge ruled in December 2019 there wasn’t enough evidence to prove hate as the sole factor.
So Braveboy led the push in Annapolis to change the state hate crime statute that a person would be charged with a hate crime “motivated either in whole or in part by another person’s or group’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or national origin, or because another person or group is homeless.”
The law, named after Collins, passed last year.
“The fight for justice that this young man fought for will not end today,” Braveboy said during a press conference Thursday evening. “I consider them family myself. I will work with them to rid this world of hate.”
Urbanski will be eligible for parole in 15 years, but only if recommended by the state parole board and then approved by the governor.
Although the Collins family wanted the no parole stipulation added, his parents will continue to honor their son through a scholarship named after him and fight against hate.
“While we are disappointed that the charges [Braveboy] pursued was not fulfilled, we certainly are happy that the sentence gave him a sentence for his natural life,” Richard Collins said. “We’re resigned to continue the legacy of our son and continuing to support all the causes we want to make a positive difference in going forward with what remains of our life in honor of his life.”