The family of Natasha McShane, the Irish student who was severely beaten with a baseball bat in Chicago, in April 2010, walked in to the Leighton Criminal Court Buildings on Tuesday, on the first day of the trial of Heriberto Viramontes.
The accused allegedly beat the University College Dublin student around the head and back with an aluminum baseball bat. Her friend Stacy Jurich was also viciously attacked before she managed to raise the alarm.
Viramontes faces 25 felony counts including attempted murder and armed robbery. His accomplice Marcy Cruz (28) is serving 22 years in prison having pleaded guilty to the charges against her.
Opening statements could begin as early as Wednesday. It is believed that Jurich, who has recovered from her injuries, will take the stand. McShane’s mother, Sheila, will also take the stand to speak about her daughter’s injuries.
McShane, who lives with her family in Silverbridge, County Armagh, now requires constant care. She is unable to speak or walk. Her family has not told her about the ongoing court case and are not sure that she understands a great deal of what is happening around her.
Conor McShane, the victim’s brother, told the BBC “It seems like a nightmare you want to wake up from but it is happening. We are going to have to deal with it. All we have to do is move on and pray and hope Natasha will be better, which she will be.”
Jurich told the Chicago Tribune that she is personally still recovering from the attack.
She said “Physically and mentally the attack has taken a toll on me. Some days are better than others. Learning to accept the brain I have today will never be what it was is difficult, still a struggle at times. The priority now is getting through the trial and hopefully finding justice for myself and dear Natasha."
Prosecutors, according the CBS Local, plan to show the jurors McShane’s passport, ID, and state ID, which were found in the trash close to the suspect’s home. They will also show a video of McShane to illustrate the extent of the injuries which left her in a coma, with brain swelling among other injuries.
Several Irish journalists were present at the Chicago court to cover the story. Members of the community were also there in support to the Irish victim.
John Gorski, president of the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) said “It’s important to support the family. It’s a foreign land, it’s a big city.
“They came here for help. Natasha came here for an education, and a better life, and she didn’t leave that way.”