A 26-year-old woman charged in the death of an 87-year-old Broadway singing coach hurled an epithet at her before pushing her to the ground and walking away while the older woman lay bleeding on the sidewalk, prosecutors at an indictment said Tuesday.
of Port Jefferson, Long Island, presented Tuesday to face a manslaughter charge in the death of Barbara Maier Gustern, which police say was the result of an “unprovoked, senseless assault” between two strangers.
Gustern hit her head and was seriously injured March 10 after being knocked to the ground on West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. She died on March 15.
Friends told The New York Times that Gustern had just left her apartment to see a student’s performance after hosting a rehearsal for a cabaret show at her apartment.
At the arraignment, prosecutors said an eyewitness went to help Gustern and that she was able to give police an account of what happened before she lost consciousness.
A message has been sent to Pazienza’s attorney for comment. Her next court date is scheduled for March 25.
“She’s a very moral, righteous, righteous person who went to high school, went to college, has a job, has a fiancé, has a family, and for her, that’s, she’s in the Twilight Zone,” defends Arthur Aidala said Tuesday, CBS New York.
Prosecutors said authorities used video surveillance to identify a suspect and that in the time since the attack Pazienza had tried to avoid arrest. They said she deleted social media, as well as a website for her upcoming wedding, and stopped using her phone.
Police received a tip that she was at her parents’ Long Island home, prosecutors said, but were dismissed when they went there Monday. Her attorney contacted her on Tuesday to arrange her complaint, prosecutors said.
Gustern had been well known in the theater world for decades.
She has worked with singers ranging from the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical Oklahoma! to experimental theater artist and 2017 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Taylor Mac, who told the Times she was “one of the greatest people I’ve met.”
Her late husband, Joe Gustern, was also a singer, with credits including The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
“She was a force of nature. I called her a little neutron star, right, a ball of energy that built community everywhere she went,” said her grandson, AJ Gustern..