A white man who stabbed a Black college student to death on the University of Maryland’s campus has been sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors are calling a hate crime. Sean Urbanski, 25, apologized to the family of Richard Collins III, who was 23 when he was slain, for the “horrible pain” he caused them, CBS News reported.
The murder happened on May 20, 2017, on the University’s College Park campus, when Urbanski approached Collins as he waited for an Uber at a bus stop with two friends, according to court records. Urbanski pulled out a folding knife and told the group of friends "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you,” police said. Collins said “no” and Urbanski stabbed him once in the chest.
Urbanski was convicted of first-degree murder in 2019, but Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. previously dismissed a hate crime charge. Hill did say in court that he didn’t think it was a coincidence that Collins stabbed the only Black person at the bus stop on the day of his murder, but that prosecutors didn’t meet the legal burden for a hate crime charge. Hill added that alcohol was also a factor.
"With the passage of time, we have come to the realization that racist hate was the murderer's only motivation for killing our son," Richard Collins Jr. said in court Thursday.
Urbanski said during the hearing that he wishes he could “go back and change what happened.”
"There hasn't been a day that's gone by where I haven't thought about what I've done to you, and if I could switch places with your son I would in a heartbeat," Urbanski told Collins' parents during a teleconference of the court hearing, CBS News reported.
Prosecutors pushed for the maximum life sentence without the possibility of parole, but Urbanski will eventually be eligible for parole, according to reports.
After Urbanski’s case, the hate crime law in Maryland was changed, ruling hate doesn’t have to be the only motivation in committing a crime to be charged. Collins’ name was in the legislation as his parents pushed for its passing.
Collins was set to graduate from Bowie State University before his death. He was also commissioned to become a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.