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White man appeals conviction for murder of black student


White man serving life in prison for stabbing black student to death at University of Maryland bus stop has asked the state’s second highest court to overturn his murder conviction

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – A white man serving a life sentence for stabbing a black student to death at a University of Maryland bus stop has asked the state’s second highest court to overturn his conviction for murder.

WTOP-FM reports lawyers for Sean Urbanski argue the trial judge should not have allowed jurors to see or hear about racist memes investigators found on Urbanski’s phone after killing the lieutenant Richard Collins III in May 2017. On Tuesday, they asked the Special Court of Appeal to order a new trial.

Prince George County prosecutors said the murder was a racially motivated hate crime. Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Hill Jr. dismissed a hate crime charge against Urbanski before a jury found him guilty of first degree murder in December 2019.

But the judge said he believed race and alcohol were factors in the murder. The judge allowed prosecutors to present evidence that Urbanski recorded at least six photographs of racist memes on his cell phone and liked a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.”

Urbanski’s lawyers said prosecutors had presented no evidence that their client ever made racist statements or held racist views.

“On the contrary, the state argued that because (Urbanski) had racist memes on his phone and because he assaulted a black man, it followed that he had a racist motive and intent on the night of this crime, “the defense lawyers wrote.

Prosecutors had called for the maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, although Urbanski is eligible for parole under the judge’s sentence.

Collins was appointed a second lieutenant in the United States Army shortly before his death. He was days away from graduating from Bowie State University, a historically black university, and was partying with a friend in bars the night of his murder.

Urbanski had been enrolled on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland. He too had been drinking with friends in bars before the murder.