|Transsexual Assault Case Compared to 'Jerry Springer'|
|By RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)||Dec 11, 2012, 6:10 PM|
Lawyers in a salacious New York City assault trial have made their closing arguments in a case that one attorney compared to a "Lifetime movie" and an episode of the "Jerry Springer Show," in which a 265-pound firefighter is accused of punching, biting and strangling his transsexual ex-lover last August.
Taylor Murphy, 29, who once posed as Mr. March in a firefighter beefcake calendar, is charged with abusing Claudia Charriez, 31, a self-described escort who was kicked off the reality show "America's Next Top Model" in 2006 when it was revealed she was born man.
Over four days of testimony, jurors were subjected to X-rated escort advertisements, F-bomb ridden text messages, and outbursts from the accuser, who at one pointed shouted "I do love you!" at the defendant from the stand, and accused the defense attorney of trying to get his "Law and Order" moment.
"Its backdrop is colorful, it's salacious, but it's not what this case is about… It's not a Lifetime movie, although it often seemed like it. This is isn't the Jerry Springer show, though it often sounded like it," defense lawyer Jason Berland told the jury during summations Tuesday.
Charriez, a blond bombshell, and Taylor, a hulking body builder, dated off-and-on for several years. On their third date she revealed she was born a man, but the firefighter said he already knew all about her from TV, according to testimony.
"His girlfriend at the time had my episodes TiVo'd on her TV," Charriez testified last week, according to reports.
Prosecutors accuse Taylor, who was previously ordered by a court to stay away from Charriez, of calling her more than 1,000 times before finally blowing up at her following a night of drunken revelry at a strip club and later in hotel room. Taylor allegedly became jealous and Charriez taunted him by calling him a "faggot," testimony revealed.
Prosecutor Kevin Rooney told jurors Taylor choked Charriez with "his massive hands… so hard that her contact popped out of her eye."
But Berland tried to depict Charriez as an attention seeker who doubled her escorting rate from $300 to $600 after news of the trial went public, and who lied about the extent of the "tussle" the two had.
"This was a tussle and no more," said Berland, who showed photographs of Charriez's alleged injuries, which appeared minor.
Prosecutors, however, said Murphy did plenty of damage.
"Could this huge man have done worse?" asked Rooney. "Absolutely. Could he have killed her with his bare hands? Very likely. He did what he wanted to do… hurt her, scare her and cause plain old physical injury."
The prosecution spent three days making its case, much of which consisted of testimony from Charriez. She admitted on the stand that her testimony that Murphy pulled her hair contradicted earlier statements she gave police that he had dragged her by her hair for four city blocks.
The defense rested its case Tuesday after calling just two witnesses, including Murphy's father Thomas, 66, a retired deputy fire chief who broke down on the stand talking about raising his son as a single father.
Without the jury present Thomas Murphy testified that Charriez called him after Taylor's arrest and admitted to being "a very jealous girl." The judge, however, would only allow him to characterize his reaction to the comments and not discuss the comments specifically when the jury reentered the court room.
The defense put Murphy's dad on the stand to "show that the defendant is a human being and is greatly offended by the allegations," Berland told ABCNews.com after resting his case.
The jury will be charged today and begin deliberating.