Man Who Killed Mother and Brother Gets 40 Years

Lamar Platt will spend the next 40 years of his life in a state prison – 20 years for killing his mother and 20 more for killing his younger brother.

“The defendant has brutally murdered his own mother, Marlene, and his own brother Nashan,”  Assistant District Attorney David Birnbaum said at today’s sentencing. “And chopped up their bodies, and unceremoniously threw them into the Harlem River.”

East River Plaza

The Harlem River, where Lamar Platt threw his mother's and brother's bodies (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Platt’s lanky 6-foot-2-inch frame was clad in a bright orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit when he entered the courtroom in Bronx State Supreme Court this afternoon for the sentencing.

The twisted cornrows and neat goatee he sported on his MySpace page at the time of the murder, Nov.  18, 2007, had been replaced by a closely shaven head and thick full beard. During the hearing Platt sat quietly with his shoulders taut as his hands were cuffed in front of him. As the sentence was read, he simply stared at the floor, barely grimacing.

It was Platt’s 65-year-old grandmother Elveda who first made contact with the police.  She grew concerned after she was unable to get in touch with her family over the phone from her home in Washington, D.C. She had not spoken with her 42-year-old daughter, Marlene, and her grandsons, Nashan, 22, and Lamar, 26, for days. Platt  had succumbed to a psychotic episode that led him to shoot his mother and brother and carve up their bodies, according to his lawyer, Amy Galacchio, and his social worker, Mishka Vertin.

He placed the dismembered body parts in luggage and garbage bags and dragged them in a laundry cart to the Roberto Clemente State Park in the South Bronx, prosecutors said. Then he dumped the bags into the Harlem River that flows next to the park.

Within a week, Platt’s grandmother Elveda Wright traveled to New York City, where she met the police at her daughter’s first-floor apartment on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, in the Morris Heights section of the western Bronx. Platt was found near the apartment. He failed to account for his mother and brother, prompting the police to climb through the window into the apartment, where they found a trail of blood.

“He devastated and wiped out an entire family,” Birnbaum said. “Marlene is no more. Nashan is no more, and now Lamar will spend the best part of his life in jail.”

Outside the courtroom, Birnbaum and Gallicchio, along with Vertin, discussed the gruesome details of the case. Using his own body, Birnbaum showed how Platt methodically carved up his brother’s body into parts small enough to fit into a Samsonite suitcase.

The police found only parts of the two bodies. They recovered Nashan’s sawed body, from his waist down to his knees. In another suitcase, the police found Marlene’s foot and head, and some more limbs in garbage bags. Marlene was a nurse’s aide and a single mother who had struggled to make sure both her children would be able to go to college. Nashan was set to graduate from Lehman College the year of his death.

“It was a horrific case,” Birnbaum said. “I think that the end result was satisfactory to society and we accomplished what we needed to.”

Birnbaum recommended the sentence that was handed down in court, and Platt’s lawyer, Amy Gallicchio, said she also considered it a fair punishment. Birnbaum relayed that Platt’s remaining family, especially Wright, agreed the defendant deserved 40 years in prison and five additional years of supervision once he’s released — around 2050. No mention was made of parole.

Before the murders, Platt had worked as a barber and had dropped out of college. Vertin believes it was   the combination of a long undiagnosed psychiatric condition combined with a marijuana habit that induced the violent episode. In 2007, Platt had sought medical help; but his stay in the hospital was short and he never received a full treatment.

“He really got nothing,” Vertin said. “And this just continued and continued until…” she trailed off. It was only after he was arrested that he was given the treatment he needed.

Platt has been lucid since his arrest. Gallicchio said he had been found to be clinically insane, but personally chose a prison sentence over an indefinite stay at a psychiatric facility.

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