Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of Lashawn Marten, 44, to 25 years in state prison for striking three victims, including one fatally, in Union Square after making several bias-related threats. On July 5, 2017, a New York Supreme Court jury found the defendant guilty 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.
“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 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. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we remain vigilant in protecting all New Yorkers from hate- and bias-fueled crimes, and members of the public can report suspected crimes to my Office’s Hate Crimes hotline at 212-335-3100.”
As proven at trial, at approximately 2:50 p.m. on September 4, 2013, Marten, who is black and was a frequent chess player in Union Square, repeatedly stated in substance that he would “knock out” the next white person who passed him. Shortly thereafter, as 62-year-old Jeffrey Babbitt (a white male) walked by, MARTEN suddenly struck him in the face with his fist, causing Mr. Babbitt to fall to the ground and strike his head on the pavement. Moments later, when a 19-year-old bystander (who was also white) came to Mr. Babbitt’s aid, the defendant punched him in the face. A third bystander – a 47-year-old white male – also approached Mr. Babbitt to render assistance; MARTEN, who remained at the scene, struck him in the head as well, knocking him unconscious as he fell onto the ground. Police responded to several 911 calls and apprehended the defendant at the scene.
Meanwhile, Mr. Babbitt was rushed to Bellevue Hospital. He 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.