By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, a black man who attacked three people in Union Square for being white, including one person who died as a result of his injuries, was sentenced to 25 years in a state prison.
The lengthy sentence for LaShawn Marten, 44, was in part due to the fact that the assaults were considered hate crimes.
He was found guilty on July 5, nearly four years after the incidents on September 4, 2013.
That afternoon, Marten, a regular chess player at Union Square Park, had stated he would “knock out” the next white person who passed him. Not long after this, a 62-year-old man, Jeffrey Babbitt, who was white, walked by, and Marten punched him in the face. Babbitt, who got knocked down to the ground from the blow, hit his head hard on the pavement.
Moments later, when a 19-year-old bystander (also white) tried to help Babbit, Marten punched him in the face as well. When a third Good Samaritan, a 47-year-old man tried to help, Marten hit him in the head so hard that he was knocked unconscious.
Babbitt, after being taken to Bellevue Hospital, was declared clinically brain-dead and died days later. The 19-year-old victim sustained minor injuries, and the 47-year-old victim suffered a broken rib and memory loss, among other related injuries.
“One afternoon in crowded Union Square, Lashawn Marten made good on his threat to punch the next white person he saw, setting off a chain of events that left one man dead and two others wounded,” said District Attorney Cy Vance. “There is no justification for street violence of any kind, but street violence fueled by hatred and prejudice is particularly inexcusable. As the jury concluded, this was not a series of random attacks – Lashawn Marten targeted victims solely on the basis of their skin color.”
Vance has also asked members of the public should report suspected hate crimes to his office at (212) 335-3100.
Marten was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime, assault in the second degree as a hate crime, and attempted assault in the second degree as a hate crime.
His attorney, Michael Croce, didn’t respond to a request for comment, though in 2014, he told The Post that Marten has a long history of mental illness and needed to be in the hospital.
Shortly after the string of assaults, Marten insisted to the Daily News that he was no bigot, because he’d punched people of color, too.
NYPD members involved in the case included Detective Angelo Garcia of the 13th Precinct Detective Squad; Officers Michael Shaw and Philip McGovern of the 13th Precinct; Sergeant David Sansone of the 30th Precinct; and Officer David Perez of the Patrol Borough Manhattan South Street Crime Unit.