Murder, hate crime trial in U.Md. stabbing delayed until July

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — The trial for a University of Maryland student charged with stabbing an Army lieutenant to death has been delayed six months at the defense’s request.

The defense lawyer for Sean Urbanski told a judge he “has a lot of video to go through,” in the May 20 stabbing death of Army Lt. Richard Collins III, on the campus of the University of Maryland.

The judge agreed to reschedule Urbanski’s January trial to next July.

Urbanski, 22, smiled at his parents as he entered a Prince George’s County Circuit courtroom, dressed in a green jumpsuit. He spoke in a clear voice when he answered the judge’s questions about his name, age, and education level.

“I’m in my fourth year of college, one more year to go,” Urbanski told Judge Michael Pearson.

Urbanski was a University of Maryland student when he is accused of stabbing Collins, who was visiting friends in College Park, days before Collins was set to graduate from Bowie State University.

Urbanski, who is white, is charged with first-degree murder, and a hate crime charge, in the death of Collins, who was black.

In October, when announcing the hate crime charge, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said prosecutors “are comfortable that the motive in this case was race — Lt. Collins was killed because of his race.”

The FBI has been investigating the incident, but has not said whether it will seek federal hate crime charges.

Alsobrooks’ spokesman John Erzen said he could not discuss any aspects of the prosecution.

Outside the courtroom, defense attorney William Brennan declined to discuss the strategy he’ll use at trial.

In an initial hearing, Brennan had told the judge “alcohol and substance abuse may have played a significant role in all of this.”

After this most recent hearing, Brennan would not say whether alcohol and substance abuse will be part of his defense.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not saying anything,” said Brennan, whose high-profile defense cases have included sniper Lee Boyd Malvo and Ocean City murderer Benjamin Sifrit.

Urbanski’s mother and father listened quietly during the hearing, and met privately with Brennan afterward.

Prosecutors have said they intend to seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole, if Urbanski is convicted of first-degree murder. The state charge of hate crime resulting in death carries a sentence of 20 years.

However, federal hate crimes involving murder could make a defendant eligible for the death penalty.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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