NEW YORK – NEW YORK (AP) — The ex-boyfriend of a police forensic investigator whose naked body was found tied to a bed in a pool of blood apologized to the woman's family before he was sentenced Wednesday to between 29 and 37 years in prison for killing her.
Irish-born Gary McGurk, 24, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, also is facing deportation. He admitted he hit Michelle Lee over the head and stabbed her in the neck in her apartment on April 27, 2009.
McGurk apologized in a courtroom full of Lee's former co-workers and family. "I have very little I can say to make any of you feel better," he said.
"I hope in the years to come God will help you through this. Michelle is safe with him now. I don't ask forgiveness because I don't deserve any."
McGurk, who is from County Tyrone, met Lee in 2004 when they were at John Jay College of Criminal Justice studying to be forensic investigators, like the ones made famous on the CBS television crime drama "CSI."
The two had a tenuous, on-again, off-again relationship. Prosecutors read aloud some of her final diary entries. "My mind is rambling," she wrote. "I'm not ready to lose Gary. I'm trying to figure out the right time to tell him I love him. I truly do."
McGurk had lied to Lee, telling her he was sick with cancer and needed money. Her journal entries reflect her worry.
"I can't stop thinking. I can't stop crying," she wrote. "I love him so much. I wish he would get better, I wish I could hold on to him forever."
Lee's body was discovered by her roommate at their apartment in the Queens neighborhood of Sunnyside. She was found naked, tied to the bed, with burn marks on her abdomen.
McGurk admitted tampering with her blood and sending a message to his own phone from her BlackBerry before taking it with him as he left the apartment, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. He was given the maximum sentence by Judge Gregory L. Lasak.
McGurk, who moved to the United States when he was about 10, initially was charged with second-degree murder and had faced up to life in prison if convicted. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge on May 20.
Lee started working for the New York Police Department in September 2008 as a criminalist, and she was training in forensic investigations at a police lab analyzing evidence including hair samples, drugs, gunshot residues and bodily fluids. She was going to specialize in narcotics, prosecutors said.
McGurk said in his court statements at the time of his arrest he wasn't sure he could handle the life of a forensic psychologist. "I find crime scene photos and cadavers disturbing," he said.