COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — She was bleeding profusely and already showing signs of brain damage, but Natasha McShane was conscious when she arrived at the hospital, the doctor who treated her testified Thursday.
The Irish exchange student, beaten in 2010 under a Bucktown viaduct by a man with a bat, had a skull fracture above the right ear and multiple gashes 3 to 6 centimeters long where his weapon made contact with her head, said Dr. Marius Katilius. The attack caused bleeding inside her skull, he said.
Testifying at the trial of the man accused of causing those injuries, Katilius, a trauma surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, told jurors that McShane tried in vain to communicate when she and her friend were rushed into the ER.
"Incomprehensible words," more sounds than speech, were all McShane could manage as doctors checked her vital signs and examined her pupils, said Katilius, on call the night of the Bucktown bat attack.
"She was bleeding in the nooks and crannies of the brain," he said.
McShane, now 27, was looking for a better education when she came to Chicago, but instead her life was changed forever by the city's "underbelly," Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Ogarek said in opening statements Tuesday.
Chicago "is a beacon to young minds eager to find and seek out adventure, education, culture," Ogarek told jurors at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. McShane "was one of those young people."
But on April 23, 2010, she and a friend, Stacy Jurich, were walking home after dinner and a night out at a neighborhood bar when a man with a baseball bat emerged from "the shadows" and started swinging.
Prosecutors allege that Heriberto Viramontes, 34, grabbed the bat and jumped out of a van parked nearby with his girlfriend, Marcy Cruz, at the wheel. He sneaked up behind the two women and "unleashed his violent rage," beating and robbing them, they said.
Jurich, who also suffered a severe head injury in the attack, gave jurors her emotional account of what happened Tuesday.
"I felt an excruciating pain, and sort of lost my equilibrium. [There was] a taste in my mouth like a battery," she said of being hit from behind. McShane "went down immediately. She lifelessly just fell onto the sidewalk."
But an attorney representing Viramontes — who is charged with 25 felony counts, including attempted murder and robbery — argued that one of the victims initially described their attacker as a black man in a hoodie. Viramontes, who is Hispanic, "was not under that viaduct," David Dunne said.
Cruz, Viramontes' girlfriend, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in July. She is expected to testify at Viramontes' trial.
More than three years after she fell victim to the bat-wielding mugger in the 1800 block of North Damen Avenue, McShane is unable to walk on her own or talk.
The trial resumes Friday at 10:30 a.m.