Lauren Pazienza: woman who 'shoved' Broadway singing coach, 87, charged over her death

Barbara Gustern died five days after allegedly being shoved to the ground

Lauren Pazienza of  Port Jefferson, New York, arrives at court. AP
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A New York woman has been charged over the death of an 87-year-old Broadway singing coach, who was allegedly thrown to the ground.

Lauren Pazienza walked away while the older woman lay bleeding on the pavement, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Ms Pazienza, of Port Jefferson, Long Island, turned herself in to face a manslaughter charge over the death of Barbara Maier Gustern, which police said was the result of “an unprovoked, senseless attack” between two strangers.

Gustern hit her head and was critically injured on March 10 after she was shoved to the ground on West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood. She died on March 15.

Friends told The New York Times that Gustern had just left her apartment to watch a student’s performance after hosting a rehearsal for a cabaret show in her apartment.

At the arraignment, prosecutors said a witness went to help Gustern, and that she was able to give police an account of what happened before losing consciousness.

The next court date is scheduled for March 25.

Prosecutors said authorities used video surveillance to identity a suspect, and that after the attack Ms Pazienza had tried to avoid being arrested. They said she deleted her social media accounts, as well as a website for her upcoming wedding, and stopped using her mobile phone.

The parents of Lauren Pazienza leave criminal court after the hearing on Tuesday in New York. AP

Police received a tip that she was at her parents’ home on Long Island, prosecutors said, but were turned away when they went there on Monday. Her attorney on Tuesday arranged for her to turn herself in, prosecutors said.

Gustern had been known in the theatre world for decades.

She worked with singers ranging from the cast members of the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical Oklahoma! to experimental theatre artist and 2017 MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Taylor Mac, who told the Times she was “one of the great humans that I’ve encountered".

Her late husband, Joe Gustern, was also a singer, with credits including The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

Updated: March 23, 2022, 2:04 PM