COLLEGE PARK, MD — A jury Wednesday found Sean Urbanski, 24, guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Richard Collins III, a Bowie State student and a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, according to Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. Urbanski was accused of stabbing Collins to death in cold blood while he was waiting for an Uber after visiting friends on the University of Maryland campus on May 20, 2017.
In Maryland, the maximum penalty for a first-degree murder conviction is life in prison without the chance of parole. In a release, Braveboy said her office plans to seek the maximum penalty. Urbanski’s sentencing is planned for April 16.
Prosecutors said the jury had reached a verdict just after 3:30 p.m., WUSA9 reported. The jury deliberated for about two-and-a-half hours following the six-day trial in Prince George’s County Circuit court.
On Tuesday, a PG County Circuit Court judge dismissed a hate crime charge against Urbanski. Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. ruled prosecutors didn’t meet their legal burden of showing that racial hatred motivated Urbanski, a white man, to stab Collins, a black man.
Despite the judge’s decision, Braveboy said in a statement that the jury’s verdict sent a message to the entire country that “crimes of bigotry and hate will not be tolerated in Prince George’s County.”
“This was an ugly and unprovoked attack fueled by hate and Mr. Urbanski cut short the life of Lt. Collins, who had a bright and promising future that included serving his country,” Braveboy said.
Prosecutors rested their case against Urbanski on Monday. Defense lawyers finished presenting evidence on Tuesday. During the trial’s opening statements last week, deputy state’s attorney Jason Abbott said a toxic mixture of alcohol and racist propaganda emboldened Urbanski to act on his hatred of black people. Urbanski had saved at least six photographs of racist memes on his cellphone and liked a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation,” according to prosecutors.
Brennan denied the killing was racially motivated. The defense attorney said there was no evidence that Urbanski hated or advocated violence against any ethnic group or race.
Urbanski doesn’t dispute that he stabbed Collins. His lawyers said he was extremely drunk after a night of drinking with friends near the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, where he was enrolled as a student.
It was just after 3 a.m. on a Saturday when Urbanski approached Collins while he waited for an Uber driver with a friend, a white man, and an Asian woman whom they met at the bus stop. Urbanski had watched them for more than 10 minutes before he briefly left and then returned, brandishing a folding knife as he approached the friends from a wooded area, according to Abbott.
“Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you,” Urbanski told them, according to police.
“No,” Collins said before Urbanski stabbed him once in his chest.
Brennan said an expert witness for the defense concluded that Urbanski’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the killing, making him too drunk to have the intent or premeditation necessary to support a first-degree murder conviction.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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