The Department of Defense is granting a posthumous promotion to Richard Collins III, a ROTC student at Bowie State University who was murdered in 2017, days after being commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Collins, who was black, was stabbed to death while visiting friends at the campus of the nearby University of Maryland. Sean Urbanski, a white student at the university at the time, has since been convicted of first-degree murder.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy notified four Maryland lawmakers of the decision to grant Collins an honorary promotion to first lieutenant, on Wednesday.
"The Army considered the standards and criteria required for an honorary promotion and found that 2LT Collins displayed exemplary conduct in the performance of his duties commensurate with a first lieutenant," McCarthy said in a statement.
He added that though Collins' "life was tragically cut short by a murder" he also "exhibited character and exemplary conduct of an officer of a higher rank."
It was a decision that was also supported by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
News of the promotion was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.
In a joint statement Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Anthony Brown and Steny Hoyer, all Democrats, said the honorary promotion was "the rightful recognition" of Collins' contributions as a ROTC student.
"We do not know what would have been, but we do know that his memory will stand as a reminder of the duty, honor and sacrifice borne daily by our servicemen on and off the battlefield," the lawmakers said.
"We will continue to fight for the benefits and recognition due to Second Lieutenant Collins and his family, and will work to protect future families from such circumstances."
Collins was killed three days before he was set to graduate from Bowie State University with a degree in business administration.
The FBI assisted Maryland law enforcement officials in the investigation of whether the murder was a hate crime after it was suspected Urbanski had links to a Facebook group called Alt-Reich: Nation.
Circuit Court Judge Lawrence V. Hill Jr. told prosecutors at the trial they failed to meet their legal burden of proof that Urbanski's actions were motivated by race, according to The Washington Post.