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Woman who fatally shoved 87-year-old vocal coach to the ground in New York pleads guilty


By Christina Maxouris, CNN

(CNN) — The woman who fatally shoved an 87-year-old Broadway vocal coach in New York pleaded guilty to a first-degree manslaughter charge, 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 supervision after her release, 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.

Gustern was a “talented musical theater performer 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 took place at about 8:30 p.m. ET.

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

The fall caused a “massive hemorrhage” to Gustern’s brain, it added.

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

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

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

Pazienza took the subway back to her Queens apartment with her fiancé roughly 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 stay with family.

“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,” 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 his client felt “very relieved to be heading home to be with her family,” and that their “thoughts and prayers” were with Gustern’s family on the day of her funeral.

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

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jessica Xing contributed to this report.

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