Gary McGurk, the 23-year-old Irishman charged with a gruesome murder in Queens, today pleaded not guilty to the horrific murder of his former girlfriend, Michelle Lee.
McGurk, who is originally from County Tyrone, moved to America at a young age with his parents.
His father, Aiden McGurk, who was one of the "Sleeping Bombers," was involved with the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Gary McGurk, who was shipped off to Rikers Island after the arraignment after being denied bail, faces life in prison if convicted.
He was arraigned today on six charges; one count of second-degree murder, three counts of tampering with physical evidence and two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He will be back in court on June 4.
However, his lawyer, Ron Rubinstein today told IrishCentral. "He told police he wasn't guilty, he told me he's not guilty, and I'm telling you he is not guilty."
Lee, who worked for the NYPD's crime lab, was found dead in her bedroom on Monday April 27, in the Irish neighborhood of Sunnyside in Queens.
McGurk allegedly stabbed Lee in the throat, then scalded her chest with a steam iron after she was dead. Cops also say he swindled her out of a great sum of money, perhaps in the thousands of dollars.
Her body had been badly beaten, and was bloodied by stab marks and bound. She had last been seen leaving a fitness club two days earlier.
The 24-year-old Lee worked for the city Police Department in what relatives said was her "dream job." She was a forensic investigator — like the kind portrayed on the popular "CSI" television show — and worked in police forensic labs.
Police sources told IrishCentral.com that Lee kept a diary that detailed her apparently secret romance with McGurk. One entry noted that the student soccer star had cancer, which was untrue. She reportedly gave him money for cancer treatment, they revealed.
The precise motive for the alleged murder was unclear. Lee's salary was not large, and the financial strain may have caused her to cut back on the funding of his "treatment."
Police sources said that once they were sure McGurk was their leading suspect, they acted quickly to prevent him from fleeing to his home in Ireland.
In his statement to police, McGurk said he met Lee at the John Jay gym in 2004, and they dated briefly before becoming "friends with benefits," he said.
"It got to the point that when she wasn't giving me the money back, I told her, 'You know I do have cancer and I need my money back,'" McGurk said in his statement.
McGurk said he last saw Lee around 2 a.m. on April 26, when she met him outside her apartment to explain she could not pay him back and they parted amicably, according to his statement. "I got to her apartment door and she said she had company and said good night and walked off," he told police in a statement on April 28.
McGurk maintained his innocence. "If I did it, I would deserve to be put away," he said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told IrishCentral.com of Lee, "She was a very talented young woman. She was murdered in a very brutal way." McGurk was suspected because he had "inconsistencies in his story," Kelly said, noting there was also forensic evidence implicating him.
McGurk's academic specialty at John Jay focused on psychology and legal issues. Forensic psychologists often evaluate individuals to determine whether they are competent to stand trial, and their potential for future dangerous behavior.
Chillingly, the department website lists two academic events that McGurk could have attended during the course of his studies: "Understanding and Preventing the Murder of Women in Intimate Relationships" and "The Interrogation and Torture Controversy."
McGurk's page on MySpace.com shows the accused killer said his mood was "blissful" the last time he logged into the social network which occured after the girl was murdered.