By Chauncey Alcorn
A Woodside man facing charges in the brutal murder of former NYPD Crime Lab Technician Michelle Lee, 24, of Sunnyside, and the attempted cover-up of the killing, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree manslaughter and three counts of tampering with evidence.
Gary McGurk, 24, of 48-56 58th Place in Woodside, was Lee’s former boyfriend. He previously denied killing her, even to his attorneys, but accepted a plea deal to serve a maximum of 37 years in prison, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
A DA spokesman said the Lee’s family, who was in court Thursday when McGurk pleaded guilty, was satisfied with the length of the sentence because of the guarantee of McGurk’s conviction.
“His guilty plea not only ensures that he will serve a lengthy prison sentence for his actions, but it also spares the victim’s family the emotional trauma of having to listen to testimony at trial about the gruesome circumstances surrounding Ms. Lee’s death,” Brown said in a press release.
Lee’s roommate returned home to their 41st St. Sunnyside apartment on April 27 of last year to find Lee’s naked body tied to her bed with the cord from a cell phone charger. She had been beaten and stabbed in the throat, and had burn marks from an iron on her torso, according to the DA.
McGurk admitted not only to killing Lee, but also to altering the crime scene and making calls to himself from Lee’s cell phone to cover his tracks. Investigators determined McGurk and Lee dated and had an on-again off-again sexual relationship prior to her murder, the DA said.
Lee graduated from the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and in September 2008 began doing crime lab work for the New York Police Department before she was killed.
“The defendant has admitted his guilt to a brutal and senseless crime that abruptly cut short the life of a talented young woman with a bright and promising future,” Brown said.
McGurk’s official sentencing is scheduled for June 16, but the DA said Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak indicated after McGurk's guilty plea that he would order the maximum sentence allowed for manslaughter, in accordance with McGurk’s plea deal.
Reach reporter Chauncey Alcorn by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.