The parents and siblings of Natasha McShane have arrived in Chicago to attend the trial of Heriberto Viramontes. The woman from Silverbridge, County Armagh, who was left unable to walk or speak following the vicious baseball attack allegedly carried out by Viramontes, with help from his friend, has not been told that his trial is going ahead.
On Tuesday the jury for the trial will be chosen. The 34-year-old man will appear on 25 felony counts, including armed robbery and attempted murder.
At 3.30am on April 23, 2010, McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich were attacked while walking home from a night out dancing. The attack took place under a railroad viaduct in the 1800 block of North Damen Avenue. They were celebrating McShane getting an extension of her internship in Chicago. At the time she was a student at University College, Dublin.
On their way home they were stopped and beaten severely by Viramontes. Earlier this year Marcy Cruz (28) already admitted two counts of attempted murder and received a sentence of 22 years.
McShane, now 27, was beaten around the head and back. Jurich was also badly beaten, but managed to raise the alarm. The Armagh woman spent weeks in rehabilitation in the US. She then returned to Ireland where she contracted an infection. She is now confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak and needs assistance 24/7.
Her family has made the decision not to tell McShane the trial is going ahead, for fear it might stir too many difficult memories.
Liam McShane, Natasha’s father told the Chicago Tribune, “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.”
McShane’s family cut up her food for her and she is unable to tell them when she needs the bathroom. She’s also gained weight due to her immobility and the only word she can say is “Sinn”, meaning “we” or “us” in Irish.
Her father added that while she’s improving, little by little, he doesn’t know how much of what’s going on around her she can understand.
He said "She's moving her head around more. She's tracking. She seems to be more with it,” but added that he did not know how “great (her understanding) is, I don't know."
McShane is doing physical therapy three times a week. He added “She loves the pool.
“You know from her face, her eyes and her smile.”
The jury will be selected on Tuesday and opening statements could begin in Viramontes’ case as soon as Wednesday. McShane’s mother, Sheila, will testify on the extent of her daughter’s injuries. Jurich, who needed 15 staples in her head following the attack, will also testify.
The court will also see a video of McShane, showing scenes from her current everyday life. This will include a clip of her trying to walk, stand on one foot and drink from a cup. Last week Cook County Judge Jorge Alonso said he would allow the video to be shown. However, he censored one video of McShane taken shortly after the attack. It shows the County Armagh woman attempting to put pegs on a peg board. He called this clip “the most disturbing one.” The defense argued that it could be too prejudicial.
Here’s the WGNTV Chicago report: