COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A jury found the man accused of badly beating an Irish exchange student with a baseball bat three years ago guilty on all counts Thursday evening.
Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of armed robbery and six counts of aggravated battery.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys representing Heriberto Viramontes, the man accused of the brutal 2010 beating of Natasha McShane and a friend under a Bucktown viaduct, made closing statements earlier Thursday.
As he spoke to the jury on behalf of the state and the victims, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney John Maher held on his shoulder the wooden Rawlings baseball bat allegedly used to beat McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich during a robbery.
"Whatever happened to the days of polite society when an armed robber would have said ... 'Give me all of your stuff?'" Maher asked. "Do you think those two girls would have put up a fight?"
"Behold Heriberto Viramontes, every parent's nightmare," Maher told jurors who will decide if Viramontes was the one who left McShane with injuries so bad she's unable to talk or walk on her own.
Prosecutors also played recordings of phone conversations they said Viramontes made from jail after his arrest.
"I was high," the man on the recording says. "I did some stupid sh--. But it wasn't like that. I hit her once. I hit the other b---- once."
The jury later asked for transcripts of the jail phone calls after they began deliberations shortly after 2 p.m. The also asked for a photo of a tattoo on the back of his neck.
When it was their turn at the podium, Viramontes' attorneys conceded that what happened to McShane and Jurich was a tragedy, one that cannot be undone.
"It's also a tragedy for Mr. Viramontes... He is being charged w something he did not do," Assistant Public Defender Chandra Smith said. "You can change that situation for Mr. Viramontes. You can stop this tragedy."
The defense argued that the state's case relies on weak physical evidence and witnesses who have reasons to lie or are misguided.
Prosecutors have alleged that 34-year-old Viramontes crept up behind McShane and Jurich 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.
Smith reminded jurors that Jurich initially told cops that her assailant was a black man.
"That's how we know the offender was a black man and not Mr. Viramontes," Smith said.
She said Viramontes' girlfriend, a stripper who admitted to giving multiple accounts of what went down the night of the attack, took the stand against him to get a deal from prosecutors.
The girlfriend, Marcy Cruz, testified that she waited in a van for him nearby. She has pleaded guilty and testified against him.
The attack left McShane, 23, at the time, with a severe brain injury.
McShane was looking for a better education when she came to "this glittering city," but instead her life was changed forever by Chicago's "underbelly," Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Ogarek said in opening statements.
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 Jurich were walking home after dinner and a night out at a neighborhood bar when Viramontes emerged from "the shadows" and started swinging, prosecutors said.
Along with doctors who treated the women and police and evidence technicians who testified for the prosecution, McShane's mother took the stand last week to tell jurors in a thick Irish accent how her daughter's life has been forever altered.