Natasha McShane: Accused man will not testify at trial
- 23 October 2013
- From the section Northern Ireland
The man accused of attempting to murder County Armagh woman Natasha McShane and her friend in Chicago three years ago will not testify at his trial.
Heriberto Viramontes, 34, announced his decision at Cook County Criminal Court in the American city on Wednesday.
Ms McShane, who was left brain-damaged by the attack, and Stacy Jurich were attacked and robbed in the early hours of 23 April, 2010.
The jury will begin deliberating on Thursday following closing arguments.
They must decide on each of the 25 charges Mr Viramontes faces, the most serious being two of attempted murder, two of aggravated battery and two of armed robbery.
Earlier, without the jury present, the judge had dismissed a defence application to dismiss the attempted murder charges for lack of evidence, claiming there was no intent to kill. The judge said he would leave it to the jury to decide.
The court heard that police stopped two black men with blood on their shirts in the immediate aftermath of the assault and robbery.
The initial description of the attacker, given by Ms Jurich at the scene, was that of a medium-built black man.
A "flash" alert went out to all units in the Bucktown area where the attack took place and beyond.
Officer Melissa Delpair said she stopped a vehicle with the two black males inside close to the scene half an hour after the attack. She noticed what appeared to be blood on both their shirts.
After taking details and a brief conversation, she let them go.
She said she knew at that point, around 4am on 23 April, about the attack on the two women.
The officer was being questioned by a defence lawyer after the state rested its case against Mr Viramontes.
The defence also called a detective who took a written statement from Marcy Cruz, Mr Viramontes' co-defendant, who has testified against him during the trial.
Detective Rolando Rodriguez agreed there was a correction in the statement, where Cruz stated she had a baseball bat in her van that morning but that Mr Viramontes did not have it with him when he ran "to rob the white girls".
Among the final witnesses was a detective involved in the investigation, who interviewed Ms Jurich in hospital two days after the attack.
Detective Robert Carrillo admitted Ms Jurich told him she was attacked by a black man with a silver bat. But she also said it might have been carried out by a male Hispanic. Mr Viramontes is a light-skinned Hispanic.
The officer said investigators did not follow up on initial statements made by Cruz, who mentioned individuals named Jamaica and Junior as being involved in the events that morning.
Police were sure she was lying and "pretty much knew" who was involved, Detective Carrillo said.
Another detective, Randy Troche, said Ms Jurich told him a black man walked towards the two young women and passed them as the pair made their way towards the viaduct where the attack happened.
Detective Troche was given the job of tracking down the two black men stopped in a car near the scene, one of whom is known as Junior. He never managed to find them.
Ms McShane, from Silverbridge in County Armagh, who is now 27, is unable to speak and struggles to walk or do simple tasks as a result of the injuries she sustained in the beating.
She had been attending the University of Illinois at the time of the assault.