A New Yorker has pleaded guilty to fatally kicking a top Broadway singing coach to the ground in what was alleged to be an act of random violence last year.
Lauren Pazienza, 28, filed her plea for first-degree manslaughter in Manhattan on Wednesday, as part of an agreement that provides her with an eight-year sentence and five years of post-parole supervision.
Her official sentencing is scheduled for September 29.
Pazienza admitted to shouting obscenities at 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern and pushing her to the ground on the evening of March 10, 2022 after she crossed a street to approach her. Gustern hit his head and died in a hospital five days later.
“Today’s pleading holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions,” Manhattan District Attorney Bragg said Wednesday in an opinion. “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.”
Pazienza left Gustern bleeding on the sidewalk without help. She stayed around for about 20 minutes before returning to her Queens home with her then-fiancé, authorities said.
Later that night, she told her fiancé that she pushed someone, authorities said. She then deleted her social media accounts, removed her wedding website, and fled to Long Island to stay with her family.
Pazienza said he could face up to 25 years in prison if the case had gone to trial The New York Times.
Prosecutors had said the violence followed a heated evening between Pazienza and her fiancé.
The two were celebrating their upcoming wedding with an impromptu meal at a Manhattan park when they were told the park was closing and they had to leave. Pazienza reportedly threw her food at her fiancé and stormed off before encountering Gustern.
“She was on drugs, she had maybe two bottles of wine and a ton of marijuana [at the time]said Pazienza’s attorney Arthur Aidala the New York Post Last year, when she approached Gustern, she argued that she didn’t know what she was doing. “We have very viable defenses against whether someone in your state could have intent, intent to commit a crime.”
Gustern was known in the theater world. She was the vocal coach for the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma, which won a Tony for Best Musical Revival. She also offered private lessons, including for Blondie singer Debbie Harry.
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