By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did not find sufficient evidence to file federal hate crime charges against former University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski, in the suspected 2017 murder of U.S. Army Lieutenant Richard Collins III in College Park according to broadcast reports.

In a story that was first reported by WTOP-FM, the FBI’s investigation couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that hate motivated Urbanski, who is White, to kill Collins, who is Black.  Despite the discovery of racist cartoons and posts that were found on a since deleted White supremacist Facebook group page, the Bureau’s investigators didn’t find enough evidence through forensic testing, digital investigation and interviews to prove it.

Despite information proving he belonged to a White supremacist Facebook group, the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not find sufficient evidence to file federal hate crime charges against former University of Maryland student Sean Urbanski, in the alleged 2017 murder of U.S. Army Lieutenant Richard Collins III in College Park. (Courtesy Photo)

Collins was a student at Bowie State who was leaving a visit with his friends on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus when he was killed on May 20, 2017. He was stabbed while he and two others were waiting for an Uber ride at a nearby bus stop. It became an emotional time on both campuses because Collins died just days before his graduation, after he was commissioned as a U.S. Army second lieutenant.

Urbanski still faces state charges in Maryland for first-degree murder and committing a hate crime that resulted in death.  The maximum penalty in Maryland for first-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole. There is also an additional 20-year sentence for a state hate crime conviction.

Defense attorneys began laying the foundation for Urbanski’s defense when he first appeared in court on May 22, 2017.  Their argument has been that Urbanksi was heavily intoxicated at the time of the incident and his impaired judgement made it difficult for him to meet the intent required for a first-degree murder conviction.  One defense motion seeks to dismiss the hate crime on the basis of the First Amendment, while another requests the judge sever the hate crime from the murder count.

Reports say there is surveillance video which captured the killing. In addition, Urbanski’s blood alcohol content proves he was legally drunk.

“Alcohol and substance abuse may have played a significant role in all of this,” his co-counsel William Brennan reportedly told the court during that first appearance.

Under Maryland law, first-degree murder is a deliberate, premeditated and willful killing. WTOP reported prosecutors have remained firm on the first-degree murder count, despite offers by Urbanski’s lawyers that he would plead guilty to second-degree murder. Second degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 30 years.

Urbanski could avoid trial by pleading guilty to first-degree murder, although both sides could make their cases for an appropriate sentence, during that phase before a judge. State and federal prosecutors have not said whether Urbanski would face additional federal hate charges that could make a defendant eligible for execution.

The trial has been delayed three times, but is now scheduled to begin July 22.   Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks was initially the lead prosecutor in the case when she was the County’s State’s Attorney.  Alsobrooks, who was been replaced by newly elected Aisha Braveboy, previously said, “the defendant purposefully chose to stab Mr. Collins, over anyone else at the bus stop that night, because Mr. Collins is an African American.”

Advocates for the Collins family have insisted that the ongoing delays with the legal proceedings are an emotional detriment to them making it difficult to overcome this tragedy

“The family of the victim has been and continues to be severely impacted by this crime,” wrote Pauline Mandel, of the Maryland Crime Victim’s Resource Center, on behalf of Richard and Dawn Collins, the victim’s parents in November 2017.