The Long Islander, who is accused of wantonly shoving an 87-year-old woman to her death, surrendered to police on Tuesday – when her A-list attorney complained that she was being targeted because of her “socioeconomic status”. was taken.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, remained a mother when she was led to Manhattan Criminal Court — her flowing red hair covering her face — to face charges of manslaughter and assault in the March 10 attack in which the beloved former Broadway star Speech trainer Barbara Maier Gustern was seriously injured.
Gustern, who suffered traumatic brain injuries, died five days later.
Prosecutors said Pazienza crossed West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue around 8:30 p.m. on the night of the shove and called the elderly woman a “slut” – before pushing her onto the sidewalk “without provocation”.
Defense attorney Arthur Aidala claimed to the judge that “pushing someone on the sidewalk” was not the same as “pushing someone off a cliff” or “pushing someone in front of a moving train” — as he accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office “overwhelms” his client.
“Prosecutors will do anything to undercharge a case, and in this particular case they overcharge,” Aidala said in court, referring to Bragg’s progressive policies.
He questioned whether the manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, was due to Pazienza’s “socioeconomic status”, “race” or media interest in the case.
However, Gursten’s grandson AJ slammed the lawyer’s argument, telling The Post: “Sounds like a smart guy. How about pushing [someone] against a curb?”
Psychological exam is pending
Judge Michael Gaffey ordered Pazienza to undergo a medical and psychiatric evaluation after seeing her in “pain” and “crying,” Aidala told reporters.
The judge set Paziena’s bail at $500,000, which her attorney said she is expected to post.
Aidala, whose past clients include disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said after the hearing that his client and her family were traumatized by the ordeal.
Gustern – whose students included Blondie singer Debbie Harry – was “bled profusely from the head” after hitting the cement that night, Assistant District Attorney Justin McNabney told the court.
Pazienza walked away “quickly,” the prosecutor said, adding that the two women were strangers.
The accused killer then stayed in the neighborhood for almost 30 minutes – even watching ambulances and police cars rush to Gustern’s aid 13 minutes after the attack, McNabney said.
Seven minutes after she allegedly pushed Gustern, cameras caught Pazienza engaging in a “physical altercation” with a man believed to be her fiancé, the ADA said. The two then caught a train from Penn Station back to their home in Astoria.
Allegedly hidden tracks
Pazienza then made “every effort to avoid any apprehensions” — including taking down her wedding website and disabling all of her social media, McNabney said, noting that the wedding was set for June.
She fled to her parents’ home in Port Jefferson, and the next day “she stopped using her cell phone altogether” and hid it at her aunt’s house, the prosecutor said.
The victim’s grandson, meanwhile, said he felt a sense of “seclusion” that Pazienza had been charged, but insisted she was “innocent until proven guilty”.
Additional reporting by Tina Moore and Catalina Gonella
https://nypost.com/2022/03/22/shove-suspect-was-overcharged-in-maier-gustern-death-lawyer/ Shove suspect was “overwhelmed” by Maier Gustern’s death: lawyer