An event planner has been jailed for eight-and-a-half-years for pushing veteran Broadway vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern to her death.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, pushed the 87-year-old vocal coach last March on a sidewalk in New York City, which caused Maier Gustern to fall to the ground.
Following the fall, Gustern died from brain injuries she sustained in the attack. The NYPD said at the time that she was pushed from behind by a woman who “crossed the street [and] pushed [her] in an unproved senseless attack.”
A search for the attacker then begun, with New York police chief of detectives James Essig saying: “We’re asking the public’s help in solving this disgusting and disgraceful offense committed against a vulnerable, elderly female who was doing nothing but walking down the streets of New York City.”
After Gustern’s death was ruled as a homicide, Pazienza – who the police had been chasing for a week after releasing CCTV footage of her on the night of the attack – turned herself in to the NYPD alongside her lawyer, the NBC New York reported at the time.
Now, Pazienza has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half-years in prison and five years post-release supervision, the Manhattan district attorney said on Friday (September 29).
Pazienza pleaded guilty last month to one count of first-degree manslaughter, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office.
“Barbara Gustern’s sudden, violent death at the hands of Lauren Pazienza left a family and community in mourning,” Bragg wrote in a statement Friday. “There is nothing that can bring her back, but I hope that the resolution of these proceedings can provide some sense of closure amid her loved ones’ ongoing grief” (via NY1).
Following the attack, Bikini Kill singer Hanna took to social media to appeal for help identifying the attacker, writing in a now-deleted Instagram post (via Rolling Stone): “I can’t even fucking believe I am posting this.
“I really don’t want anyone else to ever have to go thru what the lovely, energetic, funny as hell Barbara Maier Gustern had to go through,” she added.
“I struggle to understand and cope with this world on a daily basis, and frankly this is beyond my ability to bear,” Gustern’s grandson wrote on Facebook upon her death being classed as a homicide. “Do what you can for your fellow human being, no matter how small. Make the time. Preventing needless loss and violence like this starts with us as individuals. We must care more for each other.”