One of two victims of the April 2010 baseball bat beating and robbery in Bucktown testified Wednesday on the first day of the trial for the man accused of the crime.
Heriberto Viramontes, 37, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery for beating Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane, both students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. McShane — who was so severely injured she still cannot talk or walk — was an exchange student from Northern Ireland.
With tears in her eyes, Jurich, 27, testified that she Natasha McShane had just finished a celebratory night of dinner, drinks and dancing when they were attacked while walking under a viaduct.
"I was hit from behind halfway through the viaduct," Jurich said. "I heard my head bang ... I was in extreme pain."
Jurich said she did not pass out after being struck.
"I saw Natasha being hit on the head ... with a bat ... she went down immediately. She lifelessly fell into the sidewalk," Jurich said on the stand.
Jurich said she struggled with her attacker when she was hit again with the metal bat. She said her attacker eventually fled with all her belongings, and that's when she looked over at her friend.
"She was not moving on the ground .. the blood started coming out of her head," said Jurich, who needed 15 staples to close the wound on her head.
Later in the afternoon, McShane's mother took the stand. She said her daughter, who is back in Ireland, said her daughter can't walk on her own, and can't walk a straight line.
Prosecutors showed a video that showed the state of McShane's condition, who was confined to a wheelchair for more than a year after she returned home, but now uses a walker. The video also shows McShane having a tough time trying to drink a cup of water.
"We don't have conversations," McShane's mother said. "Natasha sometimes says words that do not make sense."
During opening statements Wednesday morning, Viramontes' public defender, David Dunn, said his client is a victim of mistaken identity.
"To this day Miss Jurich has not seen any lineup and been able to say 'Yes or no. That's the person who was under the viaduct,'" Dunn said. He also said there is no DNA evidence linking Viramontes to the crimes.
But prosecutors said Viramontes' fingerprints are on McShane's belongings and they have video of him using Jurich's credit card later that evening at a gas station. (image, right)
Prosecutors plan to call Viramontes' former girlfriend, Marcy Cruz, to testify. Cruz pleaded guilty this summer to two attempted murder charges and was sentenced to 11 years for each count.
Another of Viramontes' attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Chandra Smith, said would call a witness who says he saw a different man with a baseball bat in the area shortly before the attack and that Curz will "say anything at anytime, as long as it benefits her."