Mentally ill man sentenced to 25 years in prison for hate crime killing

Sept. 12 (UPI) — A schizophrenic black man who said he wanted to attack white people and punched several in New York City’s Union Square Park, causing one to die, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday on hate crime charges.

On Sep. 24, 2013, Lashawn Marten, 40, punched random people, including a 64-year-old retiree who was on his way to a comic book shop named Jeffrey Babbitt. Babbitt then fell to the ground and hit his head on the pavement, leading to his death. Marten was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault earlier this year. And on Tuesday, he received his 25-year sentence.

“When you are off your medications, you are a danger to society, and you’re a powder keg that is ready to ignite,”said Justice Melissa Jackson before handing down the maximum sentence she could, according to the New York Post.

Marten had a long history of violent behavior, including other random attacks in the street, as he struggled with mental illness.

“There is no justification for street violence of any kind, but street violence fueled by hatred and prejudice is particularly inexcusable,” added Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.. “As the jury concluded, this was not a series of random attacks. Lashawn Marten targeted victims solely on the basis of their skin color.”

But Marten’s lawyer, Michael J. Croce, asked for mercy to be shown to his client due to his mental illness. Croce said Marten, who was also homeless at the time of the attack, had such strong delusions, he believed he got into a fight with Babbitt because of a chess match, reported the New York Times.

Croce said that locking up a mentally ill man was evidence of a flawed justice system.

“What benefit is it to warehouse him the rest of his life?” he said.

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