Urbanski, now 25, was U-Md. students at the time of the plug. He was charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime after authorities discovered he belonged to a white supremacist Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation” and had racist memes hidden on his phone.
During his December 2019 trial, prosecutors said Urbanski approached Collins and two friends around 3 a.m. on the night of May 20, 2017, as many seniors in the area were preparing for their college graduation.
“Go left, go left if you know what̵
During the trial, Urbanski’s lawyers acknowledged that he killed Collins, but said he was acting on an alcohol-driven impulse. They claimed that prosecutors speculated about the motive based on a handful of bad memes taken from about 17,000 photos on Urbanski’s phone.
Despite prosecutors’ belief that Urbanski was motivated by hatred in his assassination of Collins, district court judge threw Lawrence V. Hill Jr. into court. the accusation of hate crime after the state had closed the case – deciding that they had not fulfilled their legal burden described in state statutes.
The decision was a crushing blow to Collins’ family and the prosecution at the time, State Attorney Aisha Braveboy said in a recent interview, and they spoke with raw feelings about the tax decision during the court hearing.
“In my opinion,” said Dawn Collins, “my son’s greatest crime was saying no to a white man.”
Braveboy’s office had taken over the case from former Attorney General Angela Alsobrooks, now the county director. Collins’ parents were the first family Braveboy met with as a state’s attorney, she said.
“That was, I knew, the biggest case I was going to have, at least in my first term here as a state’s attorney,” Braveboy said. “And it was a case that was very close and dear to me. I went to the University of Maryland and I knew there was already racial tension on campus. And so for this to happen on a campus that I went on at one point, it touched me. ”
She said she met with Collins’ parents to reassure them and with her prosecution team to encourage them to focus on the remaining homicide case.
After two hours of deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict. Braveboy said she prayed over her Bible in her office with a feeling that “justice would be done that day.”
“And it did,” she said.
The jury found Urbanski guilty of murder.
Later that day, Braveboy promised to go to Annapolis and change the hate crime statute – which on the legal side was narrowly written and rarely used in Maryland. A bill, 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins III’s law, was introduced in the General Assembly only a few months later and extended the definition of a hate crime to include a motivation “wholly or substantially” based on a person’s race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability or national origin, or because another person or group is homeless.
The bill was passed last spring and became law after emotional testimony and lobbying by Braveboy, the Collins family and anti-hate groups.
“His legacy lives on through his parents, through a foundation they created, and truly through this cause and through this new law,” Braveboy said. “He’s going to live forever.”
Collins was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant in the army.
In October Bowie State and U-Md. announced a partnership to promote social justice and honor Collins’ legacy by studying racism and making recommendations for reforms of the criminal justice system.