Attorney for woman accused in fatal shove of 87-year-old Broadway voice coach says she was ‘overcharged’
For the record, attorney Arthur Aidala never denied that his client, Lauren Pazienza, 26, callously shoved an old woman more than three times her age on a Manhattan sidewalk where she hit her head and died four days later.
Aidala told a judge on Tuesday that the attack that took beloved 87-year-old voice coach Barbara Maier Gustern’s life wasn’t the same as “pushing someone in front of a cliff” or “pushing someone in front of a moving train.”
This is why people hate lawyers.
Then Aidala went on to attack Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, whom he accused of being soft on crime, except in the case of his socialite client.
Aidala said Pazienza — who lives in a pricey Queens condo, and was hiding out at her parents’ suburban Long Island home — was being targeted for her “socioeconomic status,” and that she had been “overcharged” with criminal accusations of manslaughter and assault.
Overcharged? Overcharged is what happens when you buy two lemons at the grocery store, and they charge you for three.
It’s what happens when you order the lunch special and the dinner price is on your bill.
While it may be the job of lawyers to zealously defend their clients, Pazienza was not overcharged. Cops and witnesses said the attack on Gustern outside her Chelsea apartment building March 10 was unprovoked, and that the young woman called her a “bitch” before pushing her to the ground.
Then she hung around and watched — watched — as an ambulance carted away the victim, cops said. Then she hopped on a train and went back to Queens, officials said.
Officials said Pazienza spent several days eluding authorities. Prosecutors said the bride-to-be deleted her entire online presence — including a website counting down to her scheduled June wedding — in the aftermath of the sidewalk attack near W. 28th St. and Eighth Ave. in Chelsea.
She allegedly fled to her parents’ home in Port Jefferson, L.I. and stopped using her cellphone, which she stashed at an aunt’s house so police couldn’t use it to track her, prosecutors said.
But surveillance footage supplied cops with a clear image of the suspect, and she was identified by someone that knew her, authorities said. The tip led the NYPD to her parents’ home two days later. But when her father answered, he told police that his daughter wasn’t home and that they were not allowed in, according to prosecutors.
Pazienza turned herself in after hiring a lawyer, a lawyer who says she’s being “overcharged.”
“Whether it was a push, whether it was a shove, whether it was a kick or whether someone tripped — the evidence is not very solid on that at all,” Aidala told reporters.
Ask Gustern’s grandson if the suspect is being overcharged. AJ Gustern said his grandmother stepped in after his mother died when he was just 10 years old.
Ask Gustern’s friends, the ones with whom she was rehearsing for a cabaret show before she went out for the last time.
Even though she was violently shoved to the ground, Gustern was no pushover, they said.
“She’s not a little old lady,” Barbara Bleier, a friend, said days before Gustern died. “I just want her to be portrayed as not just a statistic. She is a very unique person. She’s a vital force in the world of cabaret musical theater, she really is. She’s not what you think of as an 87-year-old. She’s in great shape and just alive with a vast circle of friends who turn to her for advice.”
The tough victim hung on for four days after the vicious attack.
Pazienza, who faces up to 25 years in prison if she is convicted, was released on bail Friday. Gustern’s friends and family gathered a day later for her funeral at Holy Apostles Church in Chelsea.
“We have lost one of the brightest little flames to ever grace this world,” her grandson said in a Facebook post.
A woman’s life was cruelly taken. How do you get overcharged for that?