COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Police officers who interviewed a woman who along with an Irish exchange student was attacked by a bat-wielding man in Bucktown testified Wednesday that the woman at first suggested their attacker was black.
But one of the officers, Elisa Middleton, said the woman was "dazed" when she gave that description at the scene of the now infamous attack in 2010. The woman, Stacy Jurich, later told another detective she thought she was mistaken, another detective testified.
"It was difficult for her to focus," Middleton said of Jurich's initial account.
Their testimony came after prosecutors rested their case against the man accused in the attack, 34-year-old Heriberto Viramontes.
Prosecutors say that Viramontes sneaked up behind Jurich and Natasha McShane as they walked under a viaduct in the 1800 block of North Damen Avenue on their way home from a Bucktown bar in 2010 and "unleashed his violent rage," beating and robbing them. The attack left McShane with a severe brain injury; she remains unable to speak or walk on her own.
But Viramontes' attorneys Wednesday tried to cast doubt in the minds of jurors who have been hearing the case since last week by suggesting that the true perpetrator of the crime wasn't Hispanic like Viramontes.
McShane, 23 at the time, was knocked out and never saw the attack coming. But Jurich was able to give police a description, and she acknowledged in testimony last week that she told police the attacker might have been black.
When police arrived, Jurich was conscious but she had been beaten and was not entirely lucid, Officer Middleton said. It was in that state that she said the bat-wielding mugger might be a black man between 5-feet-7 and 5-feet-9 with a medium build, Middleton said.
But Jurich had trouble focusing on the questions asked of her and ultimately passed out, Middleton said.
Later, a detective interviewed Jurich while she was recovering from head injuries at a hospital and Jurich again described her attacker as black, the detective testified Wednesday.
But Jurich later sought out the same detective to explain that she might have been mistaken and said the attacker might have actually been Hispanic.
Defense attorneys also argued Wednesday that Viramontes' then-stripper girlfriend, who testified that he robbed the women, was a liar who can't be trusted.
Attorneys on both sides are expected to make closing arguments Thursday morning.