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Man now faces hate crime charges in NYC beating death

By Allison Malloy, CNN
October 10, 2013 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New York indictment has four hate crime accusations
  • The suspect was heard saying he would "punch the first white man I see," police said
  • Victim Jeffrey Babbitt was always doing favors for people, a neighbor says

New York (CNN) -- A man accused in a brutal Union Square beating that resulted in the victim's death five days later has been indicted on state hate crime charges.

The suspect, who is black, was heard making statements similar to "I'm going to punch the first white man I see," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at the time.

Lashawn Marten faces four charges in the September 4 incident, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. The indictment was filed Tuesday.

Marten is accused of beating Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, who was pronounced dead five days later.

Marten allegedly struck Babbitt, who is white, so hard that bystanders could hear the force of his head hitting the cement. Two other men were assaulted in the attack as they tried to help Babbitt, police said.

The grand jury heard evidence by the NYPD's hate crimes task force.

Marten was ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, according to prosecutors.

Calls to Marten's attorney on Wednesday were not immediately returned to CNN.

But Michael Croce in September said a manslaughter charge "requires far more on the part of the prosecution to prove his intent to inflict that type of injury. They must show intent to cause serious injury.... It needs to be explored more as to whether they have enough evidence to prove intent to kill based on one punch."

The charges against Marten are manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime; manslaughter in the second degree as a hate crime; assault in the second degree as a hate crime; and an attempt to commit the crime of assault in the second degree as a hate crime.

Police said Marten has also gone by the name Martin Redrick.

He initially faced three counts of assault before the allegations were upgraded in the indictment.

Robert Pizzimenti, a neighbor of Babbitt's, last month described him as "a lovable guy."

"He was the kind of guy who always was doing favors for people. If you needed a ride to an appointment, you could call Jeff and he'd say, 'Yeah, I'll take you,'" Pizzimenti said.

CNN's Susan Candiotti and Sho Wills contributed to this report.

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