NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Michelle Lee started working for the New York Police Department in Sept. 2008 as a forensic investigator, like the ones made famous on the CBS television crime drama "CSI."
The 24-year-old was well on her way to becoming a top specialist in narcotics investigations, until, prosecutors say, Lee tragically became a murder victim, beaten and stabbed to death in April 2009 by Gary McGurk, who Lee met when they were both criminal justice students.
McGurk, who's 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday, and faces 29 to 37 years in prison when he's sentenced next month. He admitted hitting his Lee over the head with a hammer and stabbing her in the neck in her apartment, after what he claimed was a night of rough sex, according to court documents.
Lee's body was discovered by her roommate April 27, 2009, in their third-floor apartment in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens. She was found naked, tied to the bed in a pool of blood with burn marks on her abdomen.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Lee would have been proud of her colleagues at the NYPD's Queens crime lab who worked tirelessly to make certain that her killer was apprehended and that justice would be served.
In a rambling court statement, McGurk said Lee "told me that she made bad decisions. I told her that I was a bad decision, joking."
McGurk had been charged with second-degree murder and had faced up to life in prison if convicted at a trial.
In his court statements, McGurk said he wasn't sure he could handle the life of a forensic psychologist.
"I find crime scene photos and cadavers disturbing," he told police.