Hate crime charge in death of Bowie State student

WASHINGTON — The man accused of fatally stabbing a black Bowie State student at the University of Maryland earlier this year is being charged with a hate crime.

Sean Urbanski, 22, a white University of Maryland student, had been charged with murder in the death of Army Lt. Richard Collins III, who was stabbed to death in May at a bus stop on the campus in College Park.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks announced that a Prince George’s County grand jury returned the additional state-level hate crime charge.

She had said in July that there wasn’t yet enough evidence to bring hate crime charges, but that an investigation would continue. “We have taken the time that we thought was necessary to investigate all the evidence,” including digital evidence, she said.

“There was lots and lots of digital evidence, including a phone,” Alsobrooks said. She said investigators analyzed a phone and computers. She wouldn’t give details on what was found. Urbanski had previously been said to be a member of a racist Facebook group.

“We are comfortable at this time that the motive in this case was race. … Lt. Collins was killed because of his race,” Alsobrooks said.

Prosecutors said last month that they planned to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole if Urbanski were convicted of first-degree murder. His murder trial is scheduled to begin in January 2018.

The charge of a hate crime resulting in death carries a sentence of 20 years, Alsobrooks said.

The FBI was also investigating the incident as a federal hate crime and has not said whether they will file federal hate crimes charges. “Whether the federal government has an interest in it or not, we don’t know,” Alsobrooks said.

Collins had been commissioned a second lieutenant just a few days before he was killed, and was scheduled to graduate from Bowie State just a few days later.

In charging documents, prosecutors say that Collins and his friends were waiting for an Uber ride at about 3 a.m. May 20 when they heard Urbanski screaming as he approached them.

Urbanski approached the group screaming “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you.” When Collins said “no,” prosecutors said, Urbanski stabbed him.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

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