Crime and Courts

‘Consciousness of Guilt': Fatal NYC Shove Suspect May Face More Legal Jeopardy for Deleting Social Media, Experts Say

Lauren Pazienza, charged with manslaughter in the death of Barbara Maier Gustern, 87, could face more fallout for erasing her online presence and fleeing to her parents' home, attorneys say

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News 4

The woman accused of pushing an 87-year-old New York City voice coach to her death may have helped prosecutors by fleeing and deleting her social media and wedding website accounts, legal experts say.

"Any time a suspect flees, you can expect that prosecutors may try to introduce that as what’s called 'consciousness of guilt,'" said Danny Cevallos, an NBC and MSNBC legal analyst.

She could have turned herself in "the moment that she found out that this was a news story" and that the push resulted in death, Cevallos said. "But she didn’t."

Lauren Pazienza, 26, who was charged Tuesday with manslaughter in the first degree and assault in the first degree, is accused of shoving Barbara Maier Gustern in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on March 10.

A witness told police that Pazienza cursed at and shoved Gustern "for no apparent reason," according to prosecutors, and that Gustern hit her head on the pavement.

Prosecutors requested that Pazienza be held without bail, but Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Michael Gaffey set bail at $500,000 cash or $1 million insurance company bond. Pazienza is due in court Friday.

Pazienza's attorney, Arthur Aidala, said in a statement Tuesday that his team was "pleased that the Court granted bail to Ms. Pazienza and we expect her to be released in the coming days."

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The 87-year-old singing coach had plans to premiere a show of her own, but was shoved to the ground near her Chelsea home, and died from a traumatic brain injury. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.
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