A 26-year-old woman charged with the death of an 87-year-old Broadway singing coach threw an epithet at her before throwing her to the ground and walking away while the older woman was bleeding on the sidewalk, said prosecutors during an arraignment. Tuesday.
of Port Jefferson, Long Island, surrendered earlier Tuesday to face a manslaughter charge in the death of Barbara Maier Gustern, which police say was the result of “a senseless and unintended attack provoked” between two strangers.
Gustern hit her head and was seriously injured on March 10 after being pushed 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 his apartment to attend a student’s performance after hosting a rehearsal for a cabaret show at his apartment.
At arraignment, prosecutors said an eyewitness went to help Gustern and she was able to report to police what happened before she lost consciousness.
A message seeking comment has been sent to Pazienza’s attorney. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 25.
“She’s a very moral, okay, fair person, who went to high school, went to college, has a job, has a fiancé, has a family, and for her, it’s that she is in the twilight zone,” defense attorney Arthur Aidala told CBS New York on Tuesday..
Prosecutors said authorities used CCTV to identify a suspect, and since the attack Pazienza had tried to avoid arrest. They said she had taken down social media, as well as a website for her upcoming wedding, and had stopped using her mobile phone.
Police were told she was at her parents’ Long Island home, prosecutors said, but were turned away when they went there on Monday. Her attorney contacted her on Tuesday to surrender, prosecutors said.
Gustern had been known in the theater world for decades.
She has worked with singers ranging from actors in the 2019 Broadway revival of the musical “Oklahoma!” to Taylor Mac, experimental theater artist and recipient of the 2017 MacArthur “Genius Grant”, who told The Times she was “one of the great humans I’ve ever met.”
Her late husband, Joe Gustern, was also a singer, with credits such as “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.
“She was a force of nature. I called her a little neutron star, okay, a ball of energy, building community wherever she went,” her grandson, AJ Gustern, said..