The fiery redhead accused of shoving an 87-year-old woman to her death may have opened her parents up to charges if cops can prove they knowingly hid and helped their daughter after the random attack, a legal expert told The Post Friday.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, could have also boosted the case against her by deleting social media, stashing her phone and bolting to her parents’ Long Island home after the fatal assault on Barbara Maier Gustern earlier this month, the expert said.
For Pazienza’s parents to face charges, prosecutors would need to show they “provided criminal assistance to her” after the alleged crime and prove “they were helping her,” said Karen Charrington, a former assistant district attorney for Bronx County.
Prosecutors say Pazienza called the elderly victim a “b—h” and shoved her to the ground “without provocation” during the March 10 attack on a street in Chelsea. The beloved former Broadway voice coach, who suffered traumatic brain injuries, died five days later.
At some point, Pazienza fled to her parents’ home and “completely stopped using her cellphone,” prosecutors allege. Cops had put out widely circulated surveillance images of Pazienza before a tipster eventually recognized her.
When detectives went to her parents’ home in Port Jefferson on Monday, her father, Daniel Pazienza, refused to let them in and claimed she wasn’t there, prosecutors allege.
Charrington said any potential charges against Pazienza’s parents could be difficult to prove.
“To simply say she’s not here … you don’t have an obligation to tell on another party, you don’t have an obligation to help law enforcement catch their suspect,” she said.
“Lying to an officer happens all the time. You’d have to look at the specific facts of what the parents did.”
Pazienza turned herself in to cops on Tuesday — a day after detectives turned up on her parents’ doorstep. She was charged with manslaughter and assault over the attack on Gustern.
Charrington said prosecutors will likely rely on an argument known as “consciousness of guilt” to bolster their case after alleging Pazienza took measures to avoid being caught, including deleting social media and a website dedicated to her upcoming wedding.
“Prosecutors will want to argue she wanted to get away with this,” said Charrington, who now heads The Charrington Firm.
“Running from the scene, hiding your phone is consciousness of guilt.”
If prosecutors use “consciousness of guilt” to prove their case, the defense could try to argue Pazienza was frightened afterwards — and never intended to kill the victim.
“(The defense) could say ‘my client was afraid after seeing the media hype … and herself on surveillance. It had nothing to do with consciousness of guilt, but fear of what was to come,’” Charrington said.
Pazienza’s attorney Arthur Aidala earlier this week accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office of “overcharging” his client.
Aidala also questioned whether the manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years, was due to Pazienza’s “socioeconomic status,” “race” or the media interest in the case.
The judge set Paziena’s bail at $500,000 on Tuesday, which she is expected to post, her lawyer said.