In a rare move, a 22-year-old White University of Maryland student was indicted on a hate crime charge Tuesday in the stabbing death of a Black student that prosecutors say was motivated by race, NBC Washington reports.
Sean Christopher Urbanski was indicted in the May 20 death of Richard Collins III, 23, a Bowie State University student commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the report said.
The indictment is unusual because it is rare for White defendants to be charged in the death of African Americans, which in part precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement. But State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said evidence against Urbanski, a purported member of a racist White Supremacist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation, shows that Collins was fatally stabbed because of his skin color.
“Again, we can’t discuss in detail without compromising our case what the evidence is in the case, but again the evidence led us to the conclusion that Lt. Collins was murdered because of his race,” Alsobrooks said at a news conference Tuesday in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Collins was killed at a campus bus stop around 3 a.m. on May 20, just three days before he was going to graduate from the historically Black college. A screaming Urbanski reportedly approached and threatened Collins and his two friends, according to case documents. Urbanski then fatally stabbed Collins once in the chest, the New York Daily News reported.
Video of the fatal attack caught by a security camera has been crucial to the case, which increased racial tensions at the University of Maryland.
A murder charge was filed against Urbanski immediately following the stabbing, NBC reported.
Evidence collected from Urbanski’s phone and computers shed enough light on his motive to prompt further charges, Alsobrooks said. Exactly what digital evidence was found or presented to the grand jury was not announced.
Urbanski is facing a life sentence for the murder charge, and an additional 20 years in prison for a hate crime resulting in death. His trial is expected to begin in January.