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Man sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing Black college student

“Racist hate was the murderer’s only motivation for killing our son,” the parents of Richard Collins said.

Richard Collins III/ Sean Urbanski AP

Sean Urbanski was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday (Jan. 14) for stabbing Black 23-year-old Richard Collins III to death in 2017. In his virtual hearing, Urbanski apologized to Collins’ parents for killing their son.

“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,” he said.

On the night of the stabbing, Collins was just three days away from becoming a graduate of Bowie State University and was celebrating at the University of Maryland College Park campus. Urbanski confronted Collins and two of his friends at a bus stop, where he told Collins to “step left if you know what’s best for you.”

Collins refused and Urbanski fatally stabbed him in the chest with a three-inch blade.

“Both their lives ended that night,” Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. said on Thursday, before sentencing Urbanski to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years.

Prosecutors claimed that Urbanski attacked Collins because of his race, but hate crime charges against the 25-year-old were dismissed before his first-degree murder conviction. According to prosecutors, Urbanski belonged to an alt-right Facebook group and had racist memes on his phone.

“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., Collins’ father, said.

Judge Hill acknowledged that race undoubtedly played a factor in Collins’ stabbing, but said prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence to warrant a hate crime charge against Urbanski.

“Race is always amongst us in the things we do and things we say,” Hill said.

Defense attorneys argued that the attack was motivated by alcohol and said Urbanski had been drinking prior to confronting Collins, whom he did not know.

Collins was also a newly commissioned second lieutenant in the Army. After his death, he received an honorary promotion to first lieutenant.

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