Belfast Telegraph

Natasha McShane accused Heriberto Viramontes is 'every parent's nightmare'

By John Breslin

The prosecutor in the trial of a man accused of trying to murder a Northern Irish student Natasha McShane in the United States said to the jury yesterday: "Behold Heriberto Viramontes, every parent's nightmare."

John Maher was making his closing arguments in his case against Viramontes, who is accused of trying to kill the Co Armagh woman and her friend Stacy Jurich in Chicago in 2010.

He referred to recordings of phone calls from jail made by Viramontes, where he appears to admit to attacking two women.

Maher said: "That call and the four other calls buried that guy."

The jury retired yesterday to consider verdicts on 25 charges after five days of testimony.

"At the beginning of this trial the defence told you this is an identification case and make sure we get the right guy," Mr Maher told the jury. "It is and we did."

The prosecutor added: "Behold Heriberto Viramontes, every parent's nightmare. Natasha's skull was fractured and our skulls are built to take a beating. He did not walk up and give them a little tap."

But two of Viramontes' three defence lawyers combined to try and persuade the jury their client is innocent. They argued someone different is responsible for creeping up behind the two women and smashing a baseball bat across their heads.

"This was a tragedy for the McShane family and the daughter they sent to Chicago who will never be the same again," public defender Chandra Smith said.

During a lengthy argument, Ms Smith said: "We do not know who did this, what we do know it was not Mr Viramontes.

"We do know that on April 23, 2010, in the early hours of the morning hours Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane walked northbound on Damen (Avenue).

"There was someone walking southbound and that person passed them. That was when Stacy Jurich felt a pain in the back of her head. That person struck Natasha McShane."

That person was a black male, Ms Smith said, adding that Jurich initially said the pair were attacked by a black man but later said he was possibly a Hispanic.

Key witness Marcy Cruz had a reason to lie, the defence lawyer argued, as Cruz will be out of prison in 16 years rather than facing a 120-year term on the attempted murder charges.

The telephone calls were taken out of context, Smith said.

The defence also went through the forensic evidence, urging the jury to disregard weak DNA evidence and reminding them there was not a single spot of blood on the baseball bat, in the van or on Viramontes' clothes.

They also said fingerprint evidence was flawed.

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Belfast Telegraph


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