A Cook County jury deliberated for a little more than three hours before convicting a man accused of savagely beating two women during an April 2010 robbery in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.
Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty Thursday of attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery. He faces between six and 120 years in prison.
"We are very pleased," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez following the verdict.
Viramontes, 37, sneaked up behind Irish exchange student Natasha McShane 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. The beating left McShane unable to speak or walk on her own. Jurich still suffers headaches.
"He swung that bat viciously against those girls," Assistant State's Attorney John Maher said. "If not for radical treatments, [McShane] would be gone."
Jurich began crying when the verdict was announced, clutching the hand of a loved one.
"To know this person can never walk on ths streets again is comforting," Jurich said.
Viramontes' attorneys said they plan to file an appeal and that Viramontes is "devastated."
The prosecution took about a week to make their case against Viramontes. The defense team took a few hours on Wednesday 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 defense.
Viramontes' sister, Veronic Ramos, said 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."
Ramos said she stands by her brother's innocence.
On Tuesday, 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, was on the stand Monday 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 defense 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.
Jurors last week Friday saw photos of the bat prosecutors said was used in the attack. And a day earlier, Jurich herself was on the stand describing the ordeal.
The next court date was set for Nov. 20.