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NY Firefighter Acquitted of Assault Against Transgender Girlfriend

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Monday December 17, 2012

A Manhattan jury acquitted a New York firefighter of several assault chargers brought against him by an ex-girlfriend, a transgendered model who was once a contestant on the popular reality show "America's Next Top Model."

The New York Post has reported that Taylor Murphy, 28, was found not guilty of felony strangulation, which could have sent him to prison for seven years. Claudia Charriez, 31, accused the muscly firefighter of biting and choking her outside of a strip club in Midtown Manhattan on Aug. 6, 2011.

If the circumstances surrounding the case were not enough to attract the New York City tabloids, things got weirder when the trail itself turned into a circus that attracted even more media attention. Charriez's testimony was extremely emotional as she cried on the witness stnd and admitted to still loving Murphy. Charriez also told the court she is a $400-an-hour escort.

During the cross-examination, the firefighter's lawyer presented text messages Charriez sent to Murphy after the incident, which prompted the model to yell "I do love you," in court while looking at Murphy. The model lost control of her emotions when the lawyer mentioned her deceased ex-boyfriend, which was the cause of many fights between Charriez and Murphy.

"You shouldn't talk about dead people," she yelled and was escorted out of the courtroom. Berland then asked if she was taking estrogen when the couple fought. Charriez was removed from the court just before a mystery woman appeared, waved around articles about the case and yelled "I love you Taylor!" before being brought out of the courtroom as well.

Murphy, , who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 245 pounds, is a bodybuilder whose chiseled physique appeared as "Mr. March" in an unofficial FDNY calendar. When he learned that that he was not guilty, he wiped tears from his face and smiled.

Charriez accused the firefighter of choking her so hard it caused physical injury and made her lose consciousness. Jury members, however, had little to go on as they were presented only with a photograph of a small pale pink mark on Charriez's neck as forensic proof.

Murphy was, however, convicted of one felony count of criminal contempt for violating an order of protection after he contacted his former lover more than 1,000 times in five months after he was arrested. He also didn't have much support from the New York City Fire Department, but said he didn't want the FDNY to be involved in the "drama."

"I had to step away from the department," he said. "When you're burning in a fire, you don't want to call everyone in to save you, because they're gonna get burned too," he said. "I didn't want them to burn too."

According to defense lawyer Jason Berland, Murphy said he wants to go back to being a firefighter and hopes his single conviction won't prevent him from doing so.

Murphy insisted that he and Charriez only dated for two months until he discovered that she was an escort and had a "venereal disease" - an accusation that caused the model to breakdown in court. The firefighter added that he tried to remain friends with her but she was too jealous of his other relationships.

"I wish the best for her," Murphy said. "I wish she gets a sense of reality. I wish she leaves me alone."