Woman charged with fatally shoving vocal coach was angry about being kicked out of park, prosecution says
A New York woman charged with fatally shoving a Broadway vocal coach was angry about being kicked out of a city park, prosecutors claim.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, is accused of shoving 87-year-old Barbara Gustern to the ground, causing her brain damage when she fell and hit her head on the sidewalk.
She died five days after the unprovoked attack, for which Ms Pazienza has been charged with manslaughter and assault.
The Long Island native faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted and a judge this week ordered her to be held without bail, ruling that she is a potential flight risk.
Prosectors in the case have now laid out a timeline of what they claim happened in the run-up to her alleged attack on Gustern in March.
They allege that she spent the evening of 10 March gallery-hopping with her fiancé in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood to celebrate 100 days until they tied the knot, court documents state.
Her fiancé told investigators that Ms Pazienza had “several glasses of wine”, before the couple stopped at a food cart, according to paperwork filed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
They then took their food to Chelsea Park to eat, but before they could finish a park employee told them they would have to leave before it closed at 11pm.
“The defendant became angry, started shouting and cursing at the park employee, threw her food onto her fiancé, and stormed out of the park,” claim prosecutors.
Ms Pazienza’s fiancé told investigators that he packed up their stuff and planned on heading back to their apartment in Queens as he did not know where she had gone.
Prosecutors say that the suspect had “stormed” down the street where she spotted Gustern, who told a friend “in what turned out to be her dying words” that a woman with dark hair “ran across the street”, called her a “b***h” and shoved her as hard as she “had ever been hit in her life.”
Prosecutors allege that Ms Pazienza then “turned around and walked away, leaving Ms Gustern prone on the sidewalk, bleeding from the head.”
The court papers state that the suspect weighs 175 pounds, while the victim weighed less than 100 pounds when she died.
Gustern was helped back to her apartment in the neighborhood by the friend, before eventually being taken to a hospital where she later died from her injuries.
The medical examiner said the deadly wound that killed her was caused by “substantial force.”
Ms Pazienza is scheduled to appear in court again on 26 July.