Man gets 25 years for manslaughter

Lashawn Marten was convicted of a hate crime for punching man in Union Square Park who later died

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A frequent chess player in Union Square was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in state prison after acting on his threat to punch the next white person he saw and killing a 62-year-old passer-by.

Lashawn Marten, who is black, was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault, on July 5 by a New York Supreme Court jury.

On Sept. 4, 2013, an afternoon turned deadly when Marten, now 44, struck three victims in a crowded Union Square. Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, was the first to be punched. Babbitt, who was white, fell and hit his head on the pavement. Two bystanders, a 19-year-old and a 47-year-old, both of them also white, came to Babbitt’s aid and were also assaulted.

“This was not a series of random attacks — Lashawn Marten targeted victims solely on the basis of their skin color,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a press release Tuesday.

Babbit was rushed to Bellevue Hospital and declared clinically brain-dead, dying days later. The 19-year-old victim had minor injuries, whereas the 47-year-old victim suffered from memory loss and a broken rib.

“There is no justification for street violence of any kind, but street violence fueled by hatred and prejudice is particularly inexcusable,” said Vance.

Marten received a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 2007, and has a criminal history including drug possession and assault, according to The New York Times.

Originally published in Chelsea News on September 13, 2017.

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