Lauren Pazienza, who murdered Broadway vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern in March 2022 when she pushed the 87-year-old to the ground on a Manhattan sidewalk, changed her plea from not guilty to guilty, according to The New York Times.
Pazienza, who randomly shoved the beloved artist, is expected to be sentenced to eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced the news August 23, stating, "Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding. Today’s plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions. We continue to mourn the loss of Barbara Gustern, a talented musical theatre performer and vocal coach who touched so many in New York City and beyond.”
In addition to serving time in the state prison, Pazienza, who will be sentenced September 29, will receive five years of post-release supervision.
On March 10, 2022, Pazienza deliberately shoved the elderly vocal coach, with whom she had had no prior relationship. Gustern fell and hit her head, and was subsequently rushed to the hospital. Gustern passed away five days later due to the brain injury, following removal from life support. On March 22, Pazienza turned herself into the authorities.
Gustern's students included Blondie front woman Debbie Harry, performance artist Taylor Mac, and cast members from the 2019 Tony-winning Broadway revival of Oklahoma! She was on her way to The Public's cabaret venue Joe's Pub to see a student perform the night of the violent attack.
Gustern is survived by a grandson, AJ.