Northern Ireland

Natasha McShane attempted murder trial begins in Chicago

Natasha McShane
Image caption Natasha McShane was left brain damaged and fighting for her life after the robbery

The trial of the man accused of the attempted murder of an Armagh student in Chicago in April 2010 is expected to begin later on Wednesday.

Heriberto Viramontes is accused of attacking Natasha McShane and her American friend Stacy Jurich.

Both women were hit on the back of their heads with a metal bat as they walked home together after a night out.

Ms McShane has been left with extensive brain injuries and has struggled with her speech and mobility.

The jury for the trial was sworn in on Tuesday and prosecutors will make their opening arguments later.

Ms McShane, from Silverbridge in County Armagh, was a 23-year-old student attending the University of Illinois at the time of the assault.

She had been on an exchange programme, studying urban planning.

Drug-induced coma

The baseball attack left her in a critical condition, and doctors had to place her in a drug-induced coma.

She spent three months in hospital in Chicago before being transferred home to Northern Ireland.

Image caption Heriberto Viramontes is accused of the attempted murder of Natasha McShane.

Stacy Jurich was also briefly in hospital but has since made a good recovery and returned to work.

Mr Viramontes faces a total of 25 charges including attempted murder and aggravated burglary.

His co-accused, Marcy Cruz, appeared before George Leighton Criminal Court in Cook County, Illinois, in June when she admitted two counts of attempted first degree murder.

Cruz admitted driving the getaway car during the street robbery.

She was sentenced to 22 years, 11 years for attacking each victim.

She was told she must serve at least 85% (18 and a half years) of her full sentence before she can be considered for release.

At her court hearing, Cruz entered a plea bargain, that will see her testify against Heriberto Viramontes, who is accused of carrying out the assaults.

Some of Natasha's family have arrived in Chicago. They are expected to remain there for the duration of the trial.

More on this story