Man sentenced to life for killing Black student in case that changed Maryland hate crime law
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A white man whose killing of a Black college student in 2017 prompted changes to Maryland's hate crime law was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Sean Urbanski, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder in December 2019 for the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Richard W. Collins III. The state was seeking life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. dropped hate crime charges against Urbanski, finding that prosecutors in 2019 did not meet the legal standard to prove the defendant was motivated by racial hatred.


The prosecution cited racist memes Urbanski saved and said he was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” Urbanski's attorney at the time denied that his client advocated for violence against any racial or ethnic group.

After the hate crime charges were dropped, Collins’s parents lobbied to change the law, The New York Times reported. Under the new law, which went took effect in October, a suspect’s prior activity can now be considered as evidence of intent.

In Thursday's sentencing, Hill said he felt prejudice was a factor in Collins’s murder, The Washington Post reported. However, he declined to sentence Urbanski to life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying “both their lives ended that night.”

Prosecutors in the case said Urbanski approached Collins at a bus stop at the University of Maryland in College Park after a night of drinking, according to the Post. When Collins refused to “step left,” Urbanski stabbed him.

Collins, who was getting ready to graduate from nearby Bowie State University, was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant at the time.