Man gets 90 years for attack on Armagh woman Natasha McShane

Thursday 22 May 2014 23.05
Natasha McShane had been attending the University of Illinois at the time of the attack
Natasha McShane had been attending the University of Illinois at the time of the attack

A man has been sentenced to 90 years in prison for an attack on Co Armagh woman Natasha McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich in Chicago four years ago.

Heriberto Viramontes, convicted of the April 2010 attempted murder of Ms McShane and Ms Jurich, must serve 85% of the sentence because of the particularly terrible nature of the crime, Judge Jorge Alonso ruled.

It effectively means a life sentence for the 35-year-old Viramontes.

Judge Alonso said the sentence was based on the "brutality and cold-blooded heartlessness displayed on the night".

Viramontes received consecutive sentences of 25 years for each of the attempted murders of Ms McShane and Ms Jurich and further 20-year sentences for aggravated armed robbery.

Ms McShane, who had been attending the University of Illinois at the time of the assault, suffered a severe brain injury.

Ahead of the sentencing, Ms McShane's mother Sheila took the stand to deliver a victim impact statement. She described the continuing pain, anguish and emotional turmoil the once highly gifted student and her family were going through.

"If it was not [Natasha] then it would have been somebody else. That's the sad part," said Mrs McShane.

"We want justice, whatever the outcome... Natasha will have a life sentence of her own to serve, a life sentence of pain and misery and unfulfilment."

The attack happened early in the morning of April 23, 2010, as Ms McShane and Ms Jurich returned home from a night out in the Bucktown neighbourhood on Chicago's northside.

Ms McShane, then 23, a UCD graduate on an education exchange programme at the University of Illinois, was celebrating after securing an internship allowing her to remain in the city.

But as they walked to Ms Jurich's apartment, passing beneath an underpass, Viramontes came from behind, striking each woman once across the back of the head, then stealing their purses.

Vilamotes’ driver, co-accused, and later key prosecution witness, Marcy Cruz, had pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted murder and received a 22-year sentence.

The trial last October heard Ms McShane was hit with such force she fell hard on the ground, unconscious.

Ms Jurich remained conscious as police and other emergency services arrived, then blacked out.

As the two women were rushed to hospital, Viramontes and Cruz tried to use Ms Jurich's credit card at two filling stations. They were caught on camera.

A baseball bat was recovered from the back of the van Viramontes and Cruz were travelling in the night of the attack. Both were arrested a week after the attack.

Viramontes was found guilty last October on a series of charges, including two of attempted murder. He had faced a maximum of 120 years in jail.