Suspect in 87-year-old grandmother's shove death takes plea deal, set to serve 8 years behind bars

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Woman pleads guilty to fatally shoving Broadway vocal coach
Lauren Pazienza, 27, of Port Jefferson, pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced to eight years in state prison followed by five years of post-release supervision.

CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- A woman who shoved a beloved grandmother who later died from her injuries pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Lauren Pazienza, 27, of Port Jefferson, entered her plea on Wednesday.

Plea discussions had been in the works for Pazienza, but her attorney had previously balked at the agreement.

Under the terms of the plea, Pazienza will be sentenced to eight years in state prison followed by five years of post-release supervision. She had been facing 25 years behind bars if convicted.

She will be sentenced on September 29.

"Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding. Today's plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions," said District Attorney Alvin Bragg. "We continue to mourn the loss of Barbara Gustern, a talented musical theater performer and vocal coach who touched so many in New York City and beyond."

The victim, Barbara Maier Gustern, was wrapping up at a rehearsal on March 10 in Chelsea when Pazienza approached her from behind and pushed her to the ground.

Authorities say that Pazienza stayed in the area for some 20 minutes after the attack, before taking the subway to her apartment in Astoria, Queens, with her fiancé.

She made no mention of the assault until late that evening, when she disclosed to her fiancé that she had pushed someone. Pazienza deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website, and eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family, the district attorney said.

Gustern suffered a severe head injury and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Police announced five days later that she had died as a result of her injuries.

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