Watch CBS News

Lauren Pazienza pleads guilty to killing 87-year-old vocal coach, will be sentenced to 8 years in prison

Woman charged in death of NYC vocal coach
Woman charged with manslaughter in death of beloved New York vocal coach 01:08

The woman accused of pushing and killing a New York City vocal coach has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced to eight years in prison, officials announced.

Lauren Pazienza, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter for fatally pushing 87-year-old Barbara Gustern in the Chelsea neighborhood on March 10, 2022, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. said Wednesday in a statement.

Pazienza, who initially pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to be sentenced next month to eight years in state prison followed by five years of post-release supervision, prosecutors said. 

"Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding," Bragg said Wednesday. "Today's plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions."

"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," he added. 

Prosecutors said Pazienza was drinking heavily with her fiance the night she shoved Gustern, and she left Chelsea Park angrily after being told the park was closing soon, according to The Associated Press.

After leaving the park, she crossed the street and shouted obscenities at Gustern before shoving her to the ground and walking away as the elderly woman bled from her head, according to prosecutors. 

The fall caused a massive hemorrhage to the left side of Gustern's brain. She was transported to a local hospital where she died five days later after being removed from life support, prosecutors said. 

Pazienza remained in the area for 20 minutes before taking the train back to her apartment in Queens with her fiancé, prosecutors said. She didn't tell her fiancé about the attack until later in the evening, according to prosecutors. 

Pazienza then deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website before fleeing to her family home in Long Island, prosecutors said. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.