Trial begins of Chicago man accused of assault on Northern Irish woman

Natasha McShane from Co Armagh left unable to walk or speak after attack with baseball bat

 Natasha McShane from Silverbridge in Co Armagh was viciously attacked  in Chicago in April 2010.

Natasha McShane from Silverbridge in Co Armagh was viciously attacked in Chicago in April 2010.

Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 22:31

The trial of a US man accused of a vicious assault on a Northern Irish student and her friend in Chicago more than three years ago is due to begin this week.

Natasha McShane (27), Silverbridge, Co Armagh, and her friend Stacy Jurich were knocked unconscious and robbed by a man wielding a baseball bat as they returned home from a night out in Chicago’s Bucktown neighbourhood at 3.30am on April 23rd, 2010.

US prosecutors accuse Heriberto Viramontes (34) of carrying out the attack, which has left Ms McShane, who was 23 at the time, with cognitive impairments and unable to walk or speak.

Mr Viramontes faces 25 felony counts, including armed robbery and attempted murder, and a potential life sentence if convicted in a trial that has been delayed by legal arguments over DNA testing.

His alleged accomplice, Marcy Cruz (28), who waited in a van during the attack, is expected to testify against him in a Chicago court. She accepted a charge of attempted murder and a reduced sentence of 22 years.

Ms Jurich, who was less severely injured than Ms McShane, is also due to testify. Lawyers for Mr Viramontes are expected to argue that he was misidentified.

Ms McShane’s mother Sheila is expected to tell the court about the extent of her daughter’s injuries, her physical therapy and around-the-clock care.

Her family plan to attend the trial but have not told Ms McShane about the hearing.

Her father Liam McShane told the Chicago Tribune before the start of the trial: “We wouldn’t say that to her in case it brings back memories. Maybe someday if she can get better, she’ll have to know, but I don’t feel that I have to tell her now.”