Prosecutors, defense rest cases in Bucktown baseball bat beating trial
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter October 23, 2013 1:28PM
Heriberto Viramontes | Cook County Sheriff's office photo
Updated: October 23, 2013 5:43PM
More than three years after Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich were beaten in a Bucktown viaduct — leaving McShane unable to speak and walk — closing arguments are expected Thursday morning in the trial of their alleged attacker.
A Cook County jury will then decide the fate of Heriberto Viramontes, 34, who is charged with attempted murder, armed robbery and aggravated battery in a case that has captured international attention.
McShane, a former exchange student from Northern Ireland, has remained overseas during the trial.
Prosecutors contend Viramontes beat the two friends April 23, 2010, with a wooden Rawlings baseball bat — referred to as a “child’s toy” in court Wednesday — in the 1800 block of North Damen.
Their case rests largely on the testimony of a former stripper and recordings of jailhouse phone calls authorities said were placed by Viramontes in the months after the beatings.
Viramontes’ attorneys, meanwhile, called five Chicago Police officers to the witness stand as they tried to cast doubt on their client’s guilt. Viramontes chose not to testify in his own defense.
Both sides rested Wednesday.
Lawyers for Viramontes, who is Hispanic, have pointed to the lack of blood on Viramontes’ clothing and Jurich’s original description of her attacker as a black male. They’ve also underscored the credibility issues of key prosecution witness Marcy Cruz, Viramontes’ alleged getaway driver.
Cruz, the former stripper who testified in exchange for a 22-year prison sentence for her role in the crime, told the jury earlier this week that Viramontes told her he did “some bogus s---” the morning of the attack.
“She’s a liar, right?” defense attorney David Dunne asked a Chicago Police officer Wednesday, over prosecutors’ objections.
“She lied to me initially, yes,” Officer Rolando Rodriguez said.
Cruz told the jury Monday she had sex with Viramontes in her minivan before they began driving around the city, winding up in Bucktown. She said Viramontes parked the van, told her “I don’t want you to be involved in what I’m about to do,” grabbed a bat from the backseat and disappeared.
She said Viramontes was gone long enough for one song to play on the radio while she smoked some marijuana, and he returned with two purses, telling her to “drive off.”
Cruz said they later divvied up the contents of the purses — she took some Dior perfume and foundation spray — and visited gas stations to pump people’s gas for money.
She also said Viramontes told her, “The girls were really pretty. And that he did some bogus s---.”
Officers involved in Cruz’s interviews in the days after the beating said Wednesday she initially told them she saw Viramontes put a bat up his sleeve when he got out of the van, but she later recanted.
Nonetheless, Viramontes worried enough about her testimony that in one recorded phone call played for the jury Tuesday, he was heard saying he wrote a letter to “Marcy” to get another statement from her to use in court.
“She’s the only thing f---ing holding me down,” Viramontes said.
He also told a man on another phone call he’d been high and, “I did some stupid s---.”
“I probably hit her once,” Viramontes added.
He can be heard on other calls asking about the women’s condition, and he complained about his attempted murder charges. He said he didn’t mean to kill anyone.
“My goal was to get money to help Marcy,” Viramontes said.
Defense attorneys also focused Wednesday on Jurich’s initial description of her attacker. Chicago Police Officer Elise Middleton said she asked Jurich at the scene if the man who beat her could have been black.
“She said, ‘yes,’” Middleton said.
The officer also said Jurich seemed dazed, had trouble focusing and eventually lost consciousness. But Jurich allegedly made the same comment to officers in her hospital room — prosecutors pointed out she also said the man might have been Hispanic, though.
Officer Melissa DelPilar testified Wednesday she stopped two black males with blood on their clothing for questioning in the 1600 block of North Damen in the hours after the beating. She said she spoke to them and let them go after writing down their names, ages and physical descriptions.
Another detective testified he was not able to find the males when he went looking for them a month later, though.