A man was sentenced to 90 years in jail today after he was convicted of savagely beating two women during a robbery four years ago in Chicago.
Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty in October of attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery. He faced between six and 120 years in prison.
He left for dead Co Armagh exchange student Natasha McShane.
Prosecutors said Viramontes, 37, sneaked up behind Natasha and her friend, Stacy Jurich, with a baseball bat and began striking the women.
He stole the contents of the women’s purses and left the scene with a woman.
“My future, my dreams, my life were permanently altered when this man intentionally hit me in the head with a bat,” Jurich said Thursday in court.
Jurich said she cannot work and battles with continuous seizures, regular migraines, problems with balance and the use of the left side of her body.
“One moment I went from being smiling and laughing to being on my knees in a pool of my own blood.”
McShane’s mother, Sheila McShane, testified on Thursday that her daughter shows small improvements but still requires 24-hour care and five days of therapy a week.
She still can only string two or three words together at a time, and though she can now take a few steps on her own, she is generally confined to a wheelchair.
“She is still alive,” Sheila McShane said, “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.”
“One thing is for certain,” she continued, “Natasha will have a life sentence of her own. A life sentence of pain, misery and unfulfillment.”
Viramontes’ sister, Veronica Ramos, also spoke in court.
“He is not a monster as you put him,” Ramos said. “He is a very nice man. He has children of his own. ”
A Cook County jury deliberated for a little more than three hours in October before convicting Viramontes. Jurich began crying when the verdict was announced, clutching the hand of a loved one.
The prosecution took about a week to make its case against Viramontes. The defense team took a few hours in an attempt to prove their client wasn’t the man who attacked the women beneath the viaduct in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.
Viramontes did not take the stand in his own defence.
Ramos said at the time the family was furious becasue the judge did not wait for them to read the verdict.
“They didn’t have the audacity to wait for [my mom]” she said. “They are going through pain like we are going through pain. My mom had a right to be here.”
Jurors heard recorded jailhouse calls in which Viramontes admitted to his girlfriend that he committed the violent mugging. Kira Lundgren testified that Viramontes was agitated the night of the attack and wouldn’t let her read media accounts of it.
Viramontes’ ex-girlfriend, Marcy Cruz, took the stand as part of her plea deal with prosecutors. She was with Viramontes the night of the attack and told jurors the bat used in the attack belonged to the father of her children. She said Viramontes grabbed it before getting out of the van with intentions of robbing McShane and Jurich.
The defence tried to paint Cruz as a liar, saying she changed her statement to police about whether Viramontes took a bat from her van to beat Jurich and McShane.
But prosecutors said Cruz admitted to police she saw Viramontes take the bat and put it up his sleeve.
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