By Kelly Tansor, Copy Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty on all counts after he beat two young women with a baseball bat as he tried to rob them. Charges against him included first-degree murder, armed robbery, and aggravated battery. While Viramontes’ sentence faces up to 120 years behind bars, the two victims of the attack seem to be sentenced to a much more difficult life.
Natasha McShane was a UIC exchange student from Ireland in 2010 when the attack happened. McShane and her friend, Stacy Jurich, were walking in the 1800 block of North Damen in Bucktown when they were beaten unconscious by Viramontes with a baseball bat. Jurich testified that Viramontes swung at her head before swinging at McShane, knocking her to the ground. He then called out an expletive at the girls before running off with their purses.
A woman named Marcy Cruz admitted to driving Viramontes’ getaway car – and actually testified against Viramontes in the trial. The testimony was part of a deal she made with prosecutors; she pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car in return for a 22-year sentence. She alleges that after the attack, she and Viramontes went to a local gas station, where Viramontes used the girls’ credit cards to pump people’s gas and get money, a claim that was proven by the gas station’s surveillance footage. Cruz has since expressed remorse for her involvement in the attack.
Viramontes’ attorney vehemently denied the allegations, saying, “We don’t know who did this, but we know it wasn’t Mr. Viramontes.” However, in phone calls he made in Cook County Jail, Viramontes can be heard admitting to the attack, saying that he did not intend to kill them – just rob them for drug money. He was convicted on all counts against him and now faces a maximum of 120 years in jail.
Since the attack, McShane has been left unable to walk or talk. She is currently back home in Ireland, where she receives around-the-clock care. Her family initially did not tell her the trial was happening because they feared it would upset her. McShane’s aunt, Caroline, says Viramontes has “taken away her life…The life that she had chosen and wanted to pursue. The career she had in mind and the career that she fought for. She has to redirect that now and find a different path.” McShane’s family is glad the trial is over and expects a better recovery for McShane.
Jurich recovered from her injuries, but that is not to say she got off easy. The last three years since the attack have been very difficult for her. On top of watching her best friend’s struggle as she was left disabled, Jurich frequently has severe headaches and vision problems. After the trial, Jurich had this to say:
There hasn’t been a night that’s passed in the last three years where I didn’t wake up in a night terror reliving what happened…To know that this person can never walk the street with me again is extremely comforting.
In my eyes, there is no real winner or loser in a situation like this. Yes, Viramontes will rot in jail for possibly the rest of his life. However, McShane and Jurich will have to suffer for the rest of their lives as well, albeit physically and/or emotionally. McShane can no longer walk or talk, and Jurich still faces night terrors from the ordeal. I can only hope that there will truly be a happy ending to their story and they can see life in a more optimistic way now that their attacker can never hurt them again.