WASHINGTON — Almost two months since newly-commissioned Army Lt. Richard Collins III was fatally stabbed on the University of Maryland campus, just days before he was to graduate from Bowie State, prosecutors face an important deadline in the trial of the man charged with his murder.
Online court records list July 13 as the felony dismissal date for Sean Urbanski, the 22-year-old white University of Maryland student charged with first- and second-degree murder, and first-degree assault in the May 20 stabbing of Collins, who is black, was visiting friends in College Park days before he was set to graduate from Bowie State University.
In Maryland, felonies can only be prosecuted in Circuit Court. Murder cases are filed in District Court and must either be forwarded to Circuit Court through a judge’s finding of probable cause or through a grand jury indictment before the felony dismissal date, or the charges must be dropped to less-severe charges, which can be adjudicated in District Court.
Theoretically, even if the original murder charges are dropped, Urbanski could be indicted at a later date, since there is no statute of limitations for murder in Maryland.
Prince George’s County prosecutors and Urbanski’s lawyer William Brennan declined requests for comment.
In recent weeks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has referred WTOP’s calls about whether the FBI has completed its investigation into possible hate crimes to local prosecutors.
University of Maryland police had asked for the FBI’s help after learning Urbanski appeared to be involved in a Facebook group that posts racist information.
Law enforcement officials have said if Urbanski is indicted on the state murder charges, federal hate-crimes could be added, if warranted.
Maryland repealed the death penalty in 2013; however, federal hate crimes could make Urbanski eligible for capital punishment, if he’s convicted.
Prosecutors are precluded from discussing grand jury activities, but the cancellation of a June 15 preliminary hearing gave a clear indication that both prosecutors and Urbanski’s lawyer were aware the Prince George’s County grand jury was hearing evidence about the case.
In an initial hearing, Urbanski’s attorney told the judge “alcohol and substance abuse may have played a significant role in all of this.”
In that hearing, District Court Judge Patrice Lewis said there was “clear and convincing” evidence that Urbanski was “an absolute danger to the community,” and ordered him held before trial.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove that Sean Urbanski was an alleged white supremacist.
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