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Man tried to give sandwich to ‘I hate white people’ attacker before fatal punch: witnesses

Posted: 8:24 PM, Sep 10, 2013
Updated: 2013-09-10 20:26:38-04

Witnesses say Jeffrey Babbitt initially tried to help the man who would later allegedly yell “I hate white people” and strike him in the face, knocking him unconscious.  Babbitt apparently tried to give the man, 31-year-old Lashawn Marten, food before he allegedly turned on Babbitt and two others.

The blow he suffered left Babbitt brain dead at Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on Monday.

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Brooklyn resident Jeffrey Babbitt died at Bellevue Hospital after a seemingly unprovoked attack at Union Square. (Image: Handout via Newsday)

“He was mental, we knew he came out of a mental institution because he kept asking people how he could go back to jail,” said a local chess player who goes by the name Twitty.

EARLIER: Union Square ‘I hate white people’ beating victim dies; suspect in court

The Union Square regular says what disturbs him is not just what Marten did, but what happened before the attack.  “The guy (Babbitt) gave him some sandwiches, and he threw it down on the floor,” Twitty said.  “And then he punched the dude and and that dude fell, that’s the guy that died.”
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Jeffrey Babbitt was knocked to the ground and left bleeding after the attack in Union Square Park. (Photo contributed to PIX11 News)

Marten then allegedly attacked two other men who tried to help Babbitt, leaving one of them bleeding from the head.  Marten was arrested at the scene and charged with second- and third-degree assault.  With Babbitt’s death, however, those charges may be upgraded.

On Tuesday morning, Marten appeared in court before a grand jury, but the case was adjourned to give the prosecutor more time to prepare the new charges.

In Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, PIX11 caught up with Dennis Rita, a long-time friend and neighbor of Babbitt’s — who is still walking around with the flowers he wanted to give his hospitalized friend.

Dennis Rita

Still carrying the flowers he attempted to give to his dead friend the day before, long-time friend and neighbor Dennis Rita was in shock over the attack. (PIX11 News)

“I’m shocked,” Rita said.  “I went to the hospital yesterday, they wouldn’t let me up but I went up anyway — but he’s not there anymore.”

Marten is expected back in court on Sept. 24.