Woman indicted on manslaughter charge, ordered held without bail in fatal shove on NYC street

WABC

(NEW YORK) — The woman accused of fatally pushing an 87-year-old woman on a New York City street was indicted on a manslaughter charge and ordered held without bail on Tuesday.

Lauren Pazienza, 26, pleaded not guilty in New York State Supreme Court to charges stemming from the March 10 attack, including one count of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault. She was remanded into custody, with the judge citing a recent bail reform change that allows judges to consider the seriousness of harm caused, according to New York ABC station WABC.

Prosecutors allege that on the evening of March 10, Pazienza crossed the street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and “shouted obscenities” at the victim, Barbara Maier Gustern, a well-known and beloved member of the city’s cabaret scene and a vocal coach. Pazienza then “intentionally shoved her to the ground,” prosecutors allege.

Gustern hit her head on the ground, causing a hemorrhage to the left side of her brain, and died five days later in the hospital after she was removed from life support, according to prosecutors.

“This was a senseless and unprovoked attack,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., said in a statement. “Barbara Gustern was a beloved vocal coach who lived a vibrant and active life at the age of 87, and her loss was felt deeply by many throughout the city.”

Prosecutors allege Pazienza “went to great lengths to avoid accountability for her actions,” including leaving the scene as Gustern lay bleeding on the ground. The suspect stayed in the area for about 20 minutes, during which time video footage showed her have a “physical altercation” with her fiance and watch the ambulance arrive, before they headed back to their apartment in Astoria, Queens, according to prosecutors.

Following the incident, Pazienza deleted her social media accounts, took down her wedding website and “eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family,” according to prosecutors.

Pazienza allegedly admitted to her fiance that she pushed Gustern, prosecutors said. She turned herself in to police on March 22, nearly two weeks after the incident, and was arrested on manslaughter and assault charges. She was initially released on $500,000 cash bail.

A motive for the attack remains unclear.

Following her arrest, her attorney called the victim’s death a “tragedy.”

“We’re just going to get to the bottom of what really happened that day after we have all the evidence that’s in possession of the prosecutors because we don’t have any evidence,” her attorney, Arthur Aidala, said in a statement at the time.

Pazienza is next due in court on July 26.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.

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