Woman Pleads Guilty To Fatally Shoving 87-Year-Old Broadway Singing Coach
Lauren Pazienza pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years behind bars for the 2022 shoving death of NYC music coach Barbara Maier Gustern.
On Aug. 23, 2023, Lauren Pazienza, 28, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2022 death of a beloved New York City music coach.
Under the terms of her plea agreement, Pazienza will be sentenced to eight years in prison and five years of supervision after her release, according to CNN.
At around 8:30 p.m. on March 10, 2022, Pazienza approached 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern near West 28th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, according to NBC News. She then cursed at Gustern before forcibly shoving her to the pavement. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Justin McNabney said there was no provocation for the attack.
A cyclist witnessed the attack and stepped in to help Barbara Maier Gustern to her feet. The victim was bleeding badly from the head wound, so she was taken to Bellevue Hospital where she died from her injuries five days later, reported Eyewitness News.
Ms. Gustern was a longtime vocal coach who had worked with stars like Debbie Harry of Blondie and Taylor Mac. She was known to be very supportive of her students. On the night she was attacked, she had gone out to see a student perform. Another student, Melinda Pope DeRocker, told The New York Times., “She didn’t just change the voice. She changed lives.”
A security camera revealed that Lauren Pazienza left the scene while Gustern lay bleeding, but she remained in the area for more than 20 minutes. She and her fiancé were then caught on camera leaving New York City via Penn Station. She took a train to her parents’ house on Long Island where she went into hiding. She deleted her wedding registry website and deleted her social media accounts. She stopped using her cellphone after leaving it at her aunt’s home.
She managed to evade authorities for nearly two weeks but days after police released photos of Pazienza to the public, she turned herself in and was arrested on Tuesday, March 22.
*This article was originally published on March 23, 2022 and updated on August 24, 2023.