Relief as Natasha attacker sentenced to 90 years in jail
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
THE mother of a south Armagh student who was left in a wheelchair and requiring around-the-clock attention after an horrific
attack in America has said her daughter will serve a life sentence of her own after her attacker was jailed for 90 years, writes Brian Hyland.
Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty in October of attempting to murder Natasha McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich after the violent mugging in Chicago in April 2010.
The 37-year-old was ordered to serve consecutive sentences of 25 years for the attempted murder of Ms McShane, 25 years for the attempted murder of Ms Jurich, 20 years for armed robbery and 20 years for causing greivious bodily harm.
The two women, returning home after a night out in the city, were attacked by Viramontes and beaten with a baseball bat.
Natasha, who was studying at the University of Illinois at the time, was left with extensive brain injuries and now requires 24-hour care and five days of therapy a week.
Ms Jurich, whose testimony helped convict Viromontes at the trial last October, still suffers seizures as a result of the assault.
Speaking in Cook County Court in Chicago on Thursday, Natasha's mum, Sheila McShane, said her daughter will serve her own life sentence, adding that Natasha can only string three or four words together and is generally confined to a wheelchair.
“Natasha is still alive but we feel as if we lost her and that's a scar that will never heal," she said.
“As her parents we feel as if we're rearing our 27-year-old daughter all over again. One thing is for certain, Natasha will have a life sentence of her own.
“A life sentence of pain, misery and unfulfillment."
During Thursday's hearing, Viramontes said: "I could never understand the pain that they have experienced".
He said that he hopes his sentence will start the "healing process".
But prosecutor Assistant State's Attorney, John Maher, pushed for a high sentence, saying: "He literally turned Natasha McShae into a ghost."
Vitamontes's accomplice, Mary Cruz, was sentenced to 22 years last July for her role in the attack.
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