Heriberto Viramontes (35) has been sentenced to 90 years in prison for the brutal attack on County Armagh student Natasha McShane and her friend, in Bucktown, Chicago in April 2010.
The savage baseball bat attack left McShane (27) in a wheelchair with impaired communication abilities and Stacy Jurich with permanent health issues, including seizures.
Viramontes will serve two consecutive sentences of 25 years for the attempted murder of McShane, 25 years for the attempted murder of Jurich, 20 years for armed robbery, and 20 years for causing great bodily harm.
The judge said a "significant sentence is necessary."
He was found guilty of the attack in October 2013. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 120 years in prison.
The two friends were attacked under a viaduct as they walked home together after a night out. At the time of the assault McShane was a 23-year-old graduate student attending the University of Illinois. The friends were out celebrating McShane’s internship extension in an area of Chicago popular with young adults. They were walking to Jurich’s apartment at 3am when they were robbed and attacked.
Speaking in court on Thursday Jurich, who is unable to work, said, "My future, my dreams, my life were permanently altered when this man intentionally hit me in the head with a bat."
She continued, “One moment I went from being smiling and laughing to being on my knees in a pool of my own blood.”
Sheila McShane, Natasha’s mother, was in Chicago to speak at the hearing. Reading out her victim impact statement she said of her daughter, "She is still alive, but it feels as if we lost her and that's a scar that will never heal. As Natasha's parents, we feel as if we are rearing our 27-year-old daughter all over again."
She continued, "One thing is for certain, Natasha will have a life sentence of her own. A life sentence of pain, misery and unfulfillment."
She said McShane’s condition is improving and her daughter has “started to string three of four words together that make sense.”
Her mother said she is also regaining use of her right hand. She lives at her family home in Silverbridge, County Armagh and a team of ten people provide care and therapy for her.
Her mother said that the team and her family are “trying to get her to be a wee bit independent.”
McShane had been studying urban planning before she was attacked. She is now confined to a wheelchair or a walker. Her mother previously said that before the attack her daughter had been an artist and now she draws mere scribbles.
Jurich, who managed to raise the alarm on the night of the attack, required more than 15 staples to close the wound in her head. She has seizures, speech problems and partial paralysis due to the head injuries she sustained. She spent three months learning to walk.
Testifying in October 2013 Jurich said, "I heard my head being hit and I felt excruciating pain. And I lost my equilibrium."
"I saw Natasha being hit on the head."
She continued, "She was not moving on the ground. The blood started coming out of her head. I took my jacket and supported her head as much as I could. And I ran for help."