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Upgraded Charges In Possible Bias Attack In Union Square Being Considered

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- On Tuesday in court, prosecutors said a grand jury will consider manslaughter and perhaps hate crime charges against the man accused of brutally attacking a man in Union Square last week.

Lashawn Marten, 40, was arrested last Wednesday. He's charged with beating Jeffrey Babbitt into coma, police said.

The 62-year-old from Sheepshead Bay died Monday from cardiac arrest. On Tuesday morning, neighbors were met by signs posted in their apartment building, notifying them of his passing.

The retired train conductor was walking near the chess boards in Union Square at around 3 p.m. Wednesday when Marten allegedly said he would punch "the next white person" he saw and began attacking people.

"He said 'the next white person who walks by I'm going to [expletive],'" one woman said. "His fist went in and the man's head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground."

Witnesses said Marten then hit two more people before demanding to see police officers. He remained at the scene until police arrived.

Because of Marten's alleged comments about targeting white people, the incident could result in hate crime charges in addition to felony assault charges, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said following the incident.

Babbit's injuries were so severe, he went into a coma. Doctors later declared him brain-dead. His 94-year-old mother, Lucille Babbitt, who lived with her son, never left his side.

"I'm very worried. She went through hell. Her age, it's ridiculous. We are all here, all feel so sorry. We are all ready to do the best we can for her," neighbor Esther Yosevitz said.

Lucille Babbitt has been staying at a hospital while social workers try to arrange for suitable help so she can return home.

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