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Bucktown Bat Beating Trial Begins Wednesday

By Alisa Hauser | October 14, 2013 9:32am
 Heriberto Viramontes and Marcy Cruz have been in Cook County Jail since April 29, 2010, awaiting trial and face two counts each of attempted murder, armed robbery, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon along with a litany of lesser charges.
Bucktown Bat Beating
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BUCKTOWN — The man charged with mugging two women walking home from a bar in Bucktown — beating one with a baseball bat so severely she is unable to walk or speak three years later — will face a jury this week.

On Wednesday, Heriberto Viramontes will face charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery for his alleged role in the brutal attack, while Marcy Cruz, who drove the getaway car will testify against him.

Viramontes, 34, and Marcy Cruz, 28, were charged in the brutal attack on Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich early in the morning of April 23, 2010.

Prosecutors said Cruz waited in a van as Viramontes allegedly used a baseball bat to beat McShane and her friend Jurich from behind as they walked under a viaduct at 1800 N. Damen Ave. The women were heading home after a night on the town.

 A poster for a fundraiser for Natasha McShane
A poster for a fundraiser for Natasha McShane
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Natasha McShane May 2010 Fundraiser

The savage assault left the then-23-year-old McShane in a coma with brain damage.

Today, McShane lives with her family in a rural community in Northern Ireland and spends her days confined to her home, according to reports.

McShane's grandmother told Irish media that her granddaughter's "future has been taken away from her," and they have not updated her on the case.

The trial was scheduled for last month but was delayed until Wednesday. Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday.

In July, Cruz pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder.

Sheila McShane, Natasha's mother, plans to take the stand Wednesday, according to Joe Kopera, a Logan Square resident who has gone to 12 pretrial hearings in the last 3½ years.

Kopera said Sheila McShane will testify about Natasha's current state of mind, "to establish the fact that Natasha can't testify at the trial on her own behalf."

In addition to Sheila McShane's testimony and Cruz's testimony against Viramontes, prosecutors plan to use three minutes of video footage of Natasha McShane showing her daily challenges. Expert witnesses who analyzed the DNA from the baseball bat will testify for prosecutors, too. 

In Viramonte's defense, the Sun-Times reports that Assistant Public Defender Chandra Smith told a judge Friday that she may call a witness who said he saw "a black man with a baseball bat" in the vicinity several hours after the attack.

Jurich, now 27, was unable to be reached for comment, but the Tribune has reported she plans to take the stand, too.

On the third anniversary of the attack six month ago, a status on Jurich's Facebook page said, "April is upon us. Please don't forget."

While Kopera said he expects "mainly family and court advocates" to show up Wednesday, he's been posting news of the trial on Facebook in hopes "it will bring people out."

"It happened in our community, and it was such a horrible crime, but it can happen in any community. I know people work during the week, but I hope the community can come out to show support for Natasha," Kopera said.

Kopera added, "[Viramontes] should be locked up for life. He took a baseball bat to rob two defenseless women — that shows you what type of coward he is."

In addition to Kopera, Sandy Johnson, another court advocate, is expected to attend, Kopera said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) previously expressed frustration with the slow road to trial and said, "Most people think because [Viramontes and Cruz] are in jail, that justice has been served and the case is closed."

On Sunday, Waguespack said, "The court system could not have been more slow in the process but the community is glad to see that Viramontes will get his due punishment."

Marcy Cruz's mother Adelaida Perez, 54, told DNAinfo Chicago Sunday that she does not plan to attend the trial, but her husband, Edwin Cruz, will be there Wednesday.

"Everything is very hard right now. She is doing the right thing in testifying. I am proud of her," Perez said of her daughter.

Perez has said that she's very nervous about the trial but will "accept whatever punishment is given" to her daughter.

"I feel bad because I am a mother, and I put myself in those girls' moms' shoes. They are suffering, this is terrible. I do not agree with what happened. I wish I could wake up out of this nightmare," Perez said.