Suspect allegedly shoved 87-year-old Broadway coach to sidewalk
‘The Five’ discuss a woman charged with manslaughter after allegedly shoving an 87-year-old vocal coach from behind in an unprovoked attack.
After Lauren Pazienza allegedly called 87-year-old Barbara Gustern a “b—-” and fatally shoved her to the ground in Manhattan on March 10, prosecutors say the 26-year-old deleted all of her social media, stashed her phone at her aunt’s house, and fled to her parents’ home on Long Island.
When detectives paid a visit to her family’s Port Jefferson home on Monday after receiving a tip that she was there, her father told police that she wasn’t home and they couldn’t come in, according to the Manhattan District Attorney. Pazienza turned herself in the next day.
Karen Charrington, a former assistant district attorney for Bronx County, said it’s possible the parents could have opened themselves up to charges of hindering prosecution or accessory after the fact, but prosecutors would have to prove some type of criminal assistance.
“With hindering prosecution, you usually need to provide some criminal assistance to a person that has committed a felony,” Charrington told Fox News Digital. “But for someone to tell an officer, ‘You can’t come in,’ and they don’t want to answer questions – you have that full right to remain silent to police officers. You’re not obligated to tell the officers what happened in a crime.
After allegedly shoving Gustern to her death, Pazienza stayed in the area for more than 20 minutes, according to the Manhattan DA.
Surveillance footage reviewed by the DA captured Pazienza getting into a fight with a man believed to be her fiancé about seven minutes after the shove, then watching as an ambulance arrived at the location.
About half an hour after the attack, Pazienza and her fiancé allegedly entered Penn Station and took the subway back to their shared condo in Astoria, Queens.
It wasn’t until six days later that Pazienza fled New York City on March 16 after Gustern succumbed to her injuries.
Lauren Pazienza’s parents’ home in Port Jefferson, New York
(Fox News Digital/Rebecca Rosenberg)
MARCH 10: Barbara Gustern shoved to the ground in Manhattan
MARCH 15: Gustern dies. Her cause of death ruled to blunt-force trauma to the head
MARCH 16: Pazienza reportedly flees to parents’ home on Long Island as she apparently deleted her social media
MARCH 17: Pazienza allegedly stopped using her cellphone and hid it at her aunt’s house
MARCH 19: NYPD received anonymous tip on Pazienza
MARCH 21: NYPD turned away from Pazienza family home
MARCH 22: Pazienza retains attorney and surrenders in Manhattan
Lauren Pazienza’s mug shot
“I have handled cases as a prosecutor where there’s been a murder, and the boyfriend or fiancé has driven [the suspect] away from the scene, and they’ve been charged with accessory after the fact,” Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Fox News Digital. “But as far as walking away with someone, that’s not enough to charge.”
The parents of Lauren Pazienza leave criminal court Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
While legal experts say that Pazienza likely didn’t open her family members up to criminal liability, she may have hurt herself down the road at trial by allegedly fleeing the city.
“It’s not what you do. It’s what you do afterward,” Randy Zelin, the head of criminal practice at Wilk Auslander and a law professor at Cornell University, told Fox News Digital. “The DA will attempt to show this is consciousness of guilt.”
Pazienza was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and first-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. While she sits behind bars at Rikers Island, she has received the support of her fiancé and family, sources told Fox News Digital.
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A New York City judge set her bail at $500,000 or $1 million bond, which her attorney said Thursday he expects will be posted within 48 hours.
She is due back in court on Friday.
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