Man arrested in fatal stabbing at University of Maryland will not face federal hate-crime charges
By Lynh Bui
The Washington Post|
Mar 26, 2019 | 10:15 PM
Local prosecutors will continue to pursue hate-crime charges in the fatal stabbing of a black Army lieutenant at the University of Maryland at the state level, after the FBI decided not to pursue charges at the federal level.
“Maryland has a separate statute on hate crimes, and it does not affect our position,” said Denise Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office. “We are still moving forward.”
The FBI did not find enough evidence to recommend charging Sean Urbanski, 24, with a hate crime under federal law in the 2017 slaying of Richard Collins III, WTOP reported Monday. Multiple individuals familiar with the investigation confirmed the agency’s findings to The Washington Post.
Dave Fitz, a spokesman for the FBI in Baltimore, said he could not comment on the matter other than to say that, “From the beginning, we were asked to provide technical assistance to our law enforcement partners, and we’ve provided that assistance.”
Officials and the family of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III gathered at Bowie State University on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of a new scholarship honoring the slain student’s legacy and possibly boost enrollment in Reserve Officer Training Corps programs at historically black universities.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland declined to comment.
Urbanski has been charged with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime resulting in death in Maryland.
Police said Urbanski, who is white, stabbed Collins in a “totally unprovoked” attack while Collins was visiting friends at the university in College Park. Collins, a Bowie State University student, was waiting with two friends at a bus stop when Urbanski approached and told Collins, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you,” according to police charging documents. Collins wouldn’t move, and Urbanski pulled a knife and stabbed Collins, police said.
The killing of Collins, who was days away from graduation, gained national attention after police announced that they were looking into Urbanski’s connection to a Facebook page called Alt-Reich: Nation.
Maryland law enforcement agencies received 398 reports of hate or bias last year, an increase of 35 percent from 2016 — and a pace of more than one report a day. The state’s experience echoes a national increase in reported hate crimes, reversing a long, gradual decline.
The social media page was full of racist and inflammatory content, U-Md. Police Chief David B. Mitchell said at the time of Collins’ killing.
Urbanski’s attorneys have filed court papers asking a judge to exclude evidence linking him to the now-deleted Facebook page, arguing that the content is “not relevant” and not connected to Collins’ killing.
“There is absolutely no temporal nexus between the proffered evidence and the killing of Mr. Richard Collins on May 20, 2017,” Urbanski’s attorneys have said in court filings. At previous court hearings, Urbanski’s lawyers have said drugs and alcohol might have played a role in the case.
William C. Brennan, Urbanski’s attorney, declined to comment.
When announcing the hate-crime charge against Urbanski in October 2017, Angela D. Alsobrooks, who was the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney at the time and is now county executive, said Urbanski’s phone and social media activity will prove Collins was killed because of his race.