(NEW YORK) — A woman pleaded guilty in court on Wednesday to fatally pushing an 87-year-old woman on a New York City street last year.
Lauren Pazienza, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree for the unprovoked attack that killed Barbara Gustern, prosecutors said.
Pazienza will be sentenced to eight years in prison followed by five years of post-release supervision under the terms of the plea, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 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,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “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.”
Prosecutors said that on the evening of March 10, 2022, Pazienza crossed the street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and “shouted obscenities” at Gustern, a well-known and beloved member of the city’s cabaret scene. Pazienza then “intentionally shoved her to the ground,” prosecutors said.
Gustern hit her head on the ground, causing a hemorrhage to the left side of her brain, and died five days later in the hospital after she was removed from life support, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Pazienza left the scene as Gustern lay bleeding on the ground, but stayed in the area for about 20 minutes before heading back with her fiance to their apartment in Astoria, Queens, according to prosecutors.
Following the incident, Pazienza deleted her social media accounts, took down her wedding website and “eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family,” according to prosecutors, as police released surveillance footage of a suspect in the attack.
She eventually turned herself in to police nearly two weeks after the incident and was initially charged with one count of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault.
Pazienza’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, did not make any comments to reporters upon leaving court on Wednesday.
Gustern’s grandson, AJ Gustern, told reporters following the hearing that he has “little to no forgiveness or sympathy for Lauren or her family.”
“This is what happens when you don’t raise a child right and you let them get away with whatever they want their entire lives,” he said.