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Man asks judge to toss hate crime charge in fatal stabbing

November 14, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Attorneys for a white man charged with fatally stabbing a black student on the University of Maryland’s campus have asked a judge to throw out a hate crime charge against their client.

Sean Urbanski is charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime in the May 2017 killing of Bowie State University student Richard Collins III. Collins, 23, was visiting friends at the University of Maryland when he was stabbed to death.

In a court filing last Friday, Urbanski’s lawyers argue the hate crime charge violates his First Amendment free speech rights.

The defense attorneys say prosecutors intend to present evidence that Urbanski belonged to a racist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” Urbanski’s lawyers argue that the Facebook page and other material that investigators extracted from his cellphone, including images and texts, are “particularly offensive,” inflammatory, irrelevant and inadmissible at a trial scheduled to start in January.

“The evidence the State intends to introduce has no nexus to the alleged criminal act of first-degree murder. In other words, the evidence has no substantive or temporal connection with the killing that took place in this case,” defense attorneys William Brennan Jr. and John McKenna wrote.

In May, Urbanski’s attorneys filed a request for the judge to exclude evidence tying him to that white supremacist Facebook page.

John Erzen, a spokesman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks’ office, said prosecutors believe the Facebook page and material found on Urbanski’s phone point to the motive for the killing.

“We have said all along that we believe this was a hate crime,” Erzen said Wednesday.

Authorities said Urbanski approached Collins and two of his friends near a bus stop on the university’s College Park campus about 3 a.m. Urbanski said “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you,” and Collins replied, “No,” before Urbanski stabbed him once in the chest, according to the charging documents in the case.

Urbanski is a former University of Maryland student. Collins had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army shortly before his death.

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