By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
The grief and anguish continued for the friends and family of U.S. Army Lt. Richard Collins III as his alleged murderer didn’t make his scheduled court appearance May 30, thus delaying it until June 5.
Sean Urbanski, who is charged with first degree murder and committing a hate crime, was reportedly never transferred from the Howard County Detention Center, where he is being held in the maximum security prison, for another set of legal motion hearings before his trial begins, which is scheduled for July 22. The transfer of those in custody is supposed to be coordinated with the sheriff’s department and corrections officials. However, this time there was an apparent miscommunication which led to another delay in this series of pre-trial proceedings.
Collins was scheduled to graduate from Bowie State before he was allegedly killed by Urbanski while he and two friends waited for an Uber ride back to campus on a bus stop after visiting friends at the University of Maryland in College Park on May 20, 2017. He had recently been commissioned as a U.S. Army second lieutenant.
Last week’s delay is the third time that a pretrial motion hearing has been rescheduled, as the defense continues its arguments to have the charges modified or moved from the Prince George’s County Circuit Court altogether. Those delays have left the case in legal limbo for over two years since the fatal incident.
The Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center previously advocated on behalf of the Collins family that the constant delays in the legal proceedings bring undue emotional stress on them. Last December they lobbied that the family had been detrimentally affected and will continue to be hurt by constant trial delays.
“The trial date is a day of both dread, and a hope for resolution,” wrote Pauline Mandel, of the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center, on behalf of Richard and Dawn Collins, Richard’s parents. “The family of the victim has been, and continues to be, severely impacted by this crime. Their life and ability to function is compromised daily by the continuing effects of this (crime).”
When the motions hearing are finally held, defense attorneys William Brennan and John McKenna, are expected to argue will three motions that have previously been filed before Judge Lawrence Hill, Jr.
The defense is expected to contend that jurors shouldn’t be able to see or hear about what has been referred to “particularly offensive” racist posts found on his phone along with discussions on his previously deleted Alt-Reich: Nation Facebook page.
Urbanski’s contend that material is “extremely prejudicial, highly inflammatory, irrelevant, and should not be admissible as evidence. However, the prosecution is expected to argue that the information helps magnify the motive for the killing.
The defense is also hoping to be granted separate trials for the murder charge and the hate crime charge. Urbanski’s lawyers contend the prosecution’s evidence has to be applied to both crimes, and are expected to argue any racist material would not be admissible if this was just a murder case.
Finally, Urbanski’s lawyers are seeking dismissal of the state hate charge, claiming it violates their client’s First Amendment rights.
Urbanski’s trial was initially scheduled to begin in January, but it had to be delayed because of the departure of Joseph Ruddy, who was leading the prosecution at the inception of the pretrial proceedings.
Newsradio WTOP-FM in Washington first reported last March that the FBI did not find enough evidence to suggest federal hate crime charges against Urbanski which can be punishable by death in some cases.