Man accused of fatally punching NYC man in possible bias attack faces upgraded hate charge

A suspect who police say punched a 62-year-old New York City man in a park after threatening to "punch the first white man" he saw has been indicted on a charge of manslaughter as a hate crime.

The upgraded charge against 31-year-old Lashawn Marten was unsealed Tuesday. He faces up to life in prison if convicted. A call to his lawyer for comment wasn't immediately returned.

Marten was also ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam to determine if he's fit for trial.

Authorities say Jeffrey Babbitt died after he was struck, fell backward and hit his head in Manhattan's Union Square Park in early September.

Babbitt is white. Marten is black.

In an earlier jailhouse interview, Babbitt told the Daily News ( ) he's not racist because he's punched people of various races.


Information from: Daily News,