Northern Ireland

Natasha McShane trial begins to hear evidence against Heriberto Viramontes

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Media captionNatasha's mother and sister arrive at court to hear evidence against Heriberto Viramontes. BBC Newsline's Julie Kirby reports from Chicago.

The trial of a man accused of attacking a student from County Armagh in Chicago has heard that the evidence against him is incomplete and inconclusive.

Heriberto Viramontes is accused of the attempted murder of Natasha McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich in April 2010.

His lawyer said that what had happened to the women that night was "an absolute tragedy".

He said that Mr Viramontes, 34, was an innocent man, and that the evidence against him was circumstantial.

Mr Dunne described the state's star witness, Marcy Cruz, who said she was with Mr Viramontes that night, as a person would "say anything to anyone at any time to serve her purpose".

Ms Cruz has pleaded guilty to attempted murder for her role in the attack.

Natasha McShane and her American friend Stacy Jurich were hit on the back of their heads with a metal bat as they walked home together after a night out in Chicago three and a half years ago.

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

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

The prosecuting lawyer said Mr Viramontes had attacked Natasha McShane and her friend in a "violent rage".

She said he had "shrouded himself in the shadows, under a hoody, under a viaduct" before he "smashed his bat" into their skulls.

The lawyer said that while the girls were "fighting for their lives in excruciating pain the defendant and Marcy Cruz went off on a spending spree with the proceeds from the robbery".

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

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