Judge throws out hate crime charge in Maryland stabbing

A white former University of Maryland student was convicted Wednesday of killing a black college student at a campus bus stop, prosecutors announced.

Sean Christopher Urbanski attacked US Army Lt. Richard Collins III in the early morning hours of May 20, 2017. Witnesses said he yelled bizarre comments at Collins before stabbing him in the chest, police said.

The case “was about righting an injustice,” State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County Aisha Braveboy said at a press conference. “His life was cut short, but his legacy lives on.”

Collins’ father thanked prosecutors for their “fantastic job” and family and friends for support along the way.

“We are looking forward to the journey ahead because this is only the beginning,” Richard Collins Jr. said.

Hate crime charge dropped

A judge Tuesday dropped the hate crime charge against Urbanski, saying prosecutors did not prove the killing was motivated by hate, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Urbanski, 24, was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich,” police had said. The group “shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African-Americans,” University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell had said.

That Facebook page was taken offline after the killing.

In 2017, Maryland State Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said authorities “need something probably more than just a Facebook posting” to have the killing be considered a hate crime.

A bright future ahead

Collins, 23, was killed just three days before his graduation from nearby Bowie State University and two days after he was commissioned.

He “represented in every way possible the very best of this community,” Alsobrooks had said.

“He was already a person who had accomplished so much, more than many of us will accomplish in a whole lifetime,” she had said. “And so, it was not just the case that he was going to be somebody great.”

At the time, University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said the university community needs to “nurture a climate — on the campus and beyond — where we stand against hate, we fight against hate crimes, and we reaffirm the values that define us as a university.”

Loh said the stabbing left the community “shocked, saddened and angered.”

A strange encounter

The two men didn’t know each other, officials said.

Collins was on the University of Maryland campus visiting friends. Urbanski approached their group around 3 a.m. and began yelling at Collins, police said.

According to a witness, Urbanski told Collins: “Step left. Step left if you know what’s good for you,” Mitchell said.

“The victim looked at him puzzled with the other friends of his and said ‘No,’ ” Mitchell said. “It was then that (the suspect) stabbed the victim in his chest.”

Collins fell backward and his friends tried to help him before university officials arrived and performed CPR. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

CNN’s Julia Jones contributed to this report.

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