MANHATTAN — A homeless chess player was sentenced to 25 years in prison for punching three men — one fatally — in Union Square as part of racially motivated attacks, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Lashawn Marten, 44, who is black, was in the park on the afternoon of Sept. 4, 2013, when he started yelling he would “knock out” the next white person he saw. He then hit 62-year-old Jeffrey Babbit, who was white, in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.
Marten attacked two more white men who came to Babbit’s aid — a 19-year-old who suffered minor injuries and a 47-year-old who was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken rib and memory loss.
“There is no justification for street violence of any kind, but street violence fueled by hatred and prejudice is particularly inexcusable,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement Tuesday.
“As the jury concluded, this was not a series of random attacks — Lashawn Marten targeted victims solely on the basis of their skin color."
Marten was convicted by a jury in July of first-degree manslaughter, assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime.
His lawyer, Michael Croce, told DNAinfo New York that he intends to appeal the decision because Marten suffers from schizophrenia and was off his medication when he assaulted the men.
“Mr. Marten suffers from a very serious mental illness,” Croce said, adding that his client was in a program to treat his mental condition but was not being monitored closely enough.
“Society failed him long before the incident that occurred.”