Woman who fatally pushed an 87-year-old vocal coach to the ground pleads guilty


The woman who fatally pushed an 87-year-old Broadway vocal coach in New York pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree manslaughter, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced. Wednesday.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Lauren Pazienza will be sentenced to eight years in prison and five years of post-release supervision, the DA’s office said in a news release.

After she was pushed to the ground by Pazienza on March 10, 2022, vocal coach Barbara Gustern was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.

A selfie posted by Barbara Gustern on her Facebook page on March 17, 2021.

Gustern was a “talented musical theater and vocal coach who touched so many in New York City and beyond,” Bragg said in a statement.

The DA’s office said the incident occurred around 8:30 PM ET.

Pazienza was walking from Chelsea Park when she crossed a street and yelled obscenities at Gustern and then “intentionally pushed her to the ground,” causing her to fall squarely on her head, the DA’s office said in its news release.

The fall caused a “massive bleed” in Gustern’s brain, it added.

Pazienza walked away while Gustern lay on the ground bleeding from her head, prosecutors said.

“Eyewitnesses called EMS and Ms. Gustern was taken to the hospital where she became unconscious. She died five days later after being removed from life support,” the release said.

According to a criminal complaint previously reported by CNN, there was “no apparent motive” for the attack.

Pazienza took the subway back to her Queens apartment with her fiancé about 20 minutes after the incident. She deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website, according to the DA’s office, and later went to Long Island to live with family.

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“Lauren Pazienza aggressively pushed Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay bleeding. Today’s plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions,” Bragg said in his statement Wednesday.

CNN has reached out to Pazienza’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, for comment.

When Pazienza was released on bail in March 2022, Aidala told CNN that his client was “very relieved to be going home to be with his family” and that their “thoughts and prayers” were with Gustern’s family on the day of her funeral.

Pazienza’s sentencing will come down on September 29, the DA’s office said.

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