November 27, 2014
Natasha McShane won’t face the man accused of cracking her skull with a baseball bat under a railroad viaduct in Bucktown in 2010.
But her mother will.
When Heriberto Viramontes goes on trial this week for the infamous attack, Sheila McShane is expected to take the stand and detail “observations” she has made of “Tash’s” deteriorating condition after the brutal mugging that generated headlines around the world.
Natasha McShane’s trauma doctor and neurosurgeon also will speak on her behalf to discuss the grueling challenges she has faced since she and a friend, Stacy Jurich, were beaten unconscious. They were walking to Jurich’s house early on April 23, 2010, after a night of dancing.
McShane, who cannot walk or talk because of injuries suffered in the mugging, will remain in her native Ireland. But jurors will get a glimpse of her condition in a three-minute video clip that Cook County prosecutors plan to present in court.
Viramontes’ attorneys had argued that a 90-minute “A Day in the Life” recording would be “prejudicial” to their client, but prosecutors maintained that the tape was “demonstrative” evidence of the end result of Viramontes’ alleged actions.
In a hearing last week, Judge Jorge Alonso ruled that Assistant State’s Attorneys John Maher and Margaret Ogarek would be allowed to present a portion of the video that shows McShane, 27, navigating her way down a hallway, lifting her leg and attempting to drink.
Audio on the video clip will be turned off, the judge told the lawyers. Prosecutors said that won’t diminish any depiction of how the once-lively exchange student’s life has changed.
“In the video Ms. McShane seemingly has difficulty feeding herself and wears a bib like a small child,” court documents said. “The difference between Ms. McShane as a graduate student in Chicago, as she was at the time of the incident, and her life in Ireland could not be starker.”
McShane, according to the latest accounts in the Irish press, spends most her time in her living room on a bed, sofa or wheelchair.
She only utters one word — “Sinn,” the Gaelic word for “we” or “us” — and the 4-foot-9-inch, 100-pound woman has bulked up because her immobility.
McShane’s father also is listed as a potential witness for prosecutors. Kira Lundgren, Viramontes’ girlfriend, is another potential witness. She was sentenced to two years of probation last year for bringing Viramontes, a Spanish Cobras gang member, marijuana as he awaited trial at Cook County Jail.
Missing on a list of those who may testify is Jurich, who in the spring, wrote on her Facebook page, “April is upon us. Please don’t forget.”
Jurich, now 27, had 15 staples placed in her head after Viramontes allegedly whacked her as she tried to help a bloodied McShane. Jurich was the lucky one.
Perhaps the most compelling testimony in Viramontes’ trial may come from the woman who said she was by his side before and after the unsuspecting women were hit in the 1800 block of North Damen.
In July, Marcy Cruz agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a 22-year prison sentence on attempted murder charges tied to the vicious beatings.
Cruz said after she and Viramontes had sex and smoked marijuna in her van, they drove to Bucktown, where Viramontes expressed his desire to rob people.
“Look at all those rich white bitches,” the man nicknamed “Berto” allegedly sneered while watching revelers in the trendy neighborhood.
Viramontes then parked his van on Milwaukee, leaving with Cruz’s boyfriend’s baseball bat, according to documents filed in 28-year-old Cruz’s plea agreement.
Viramontes allegedly returned four or five minutes later with the weapon and a pair of leopard-print purses.
Viramontes rifled through the stolen purses, taking the credit cards, Cruz said. She took Dior perfume and foundation.
Cruz said she had a feeling “something “bad” had happened and told Lundgren because she felt “guilty” about the horrific incident and because she had been “messing with” Lundgren’s “man.”
Court documents describe Cruz, a former exotic dancer and mother of two, as suffering from serious depression and anxiety — factors defense attorneys may use to chip away at her credibility.
Assistant Public Defender Chandra Smith told the judge last Friday that she may call a witness who said he saw a “black man with a baseball bat” in the vicinity several hours after the attack.
Viramontes, 34, is Hispanic. The convicted felon is facing attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery charges.
Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday.