PORT JEFFERSON, NY — A Port Jefferson woman will undergo a mental health evaluation by a prosecution expert next month to determine if her attorneys can defend her against the top manslaughter charge lodged in connection with the shoving death of an elderly voice coach, Newsday reported.

The expert will interview Lauren Pazienza the week of Feb. 12, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office told the outlet.

The psychological assessment’s results could steer the direction of any plea bargain negotiations in the future, criminal law experts told the outlet.

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Pazienza, 26, is accused of approaching Barbara Gustern, 86, from behind and then pushing her to the ground. Gustern suffered a severe head injury and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. She died five days later.

Pazienza turned herself in to authorities after a day’s-long search in March. She has pleaded not guilty and previously turned down a plea deal twice. She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. As New York City Patch reported, Gustern’s death sparked an outpouring of grief in the city’s arts community.

Find out what’s happening in Port Jeffersonwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

She was well-known as the vocal coach for “Blondie” singer Debbie Harry, “Bikini Kill” lead Kathleen Hanna, numerous Broadway shows, among many other connections.
Authorities said she called Gustern a “b-—” in the unprovoked attack.

For more in Newsday, click here.

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