Northern Ireland

Viramontes guilty of Natasha McShane attack in Chicago

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Media captionStacy Jurich and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez give their reaction to the guilty verdict

A man has been found guilty of the attempted murder of County Armagh woman Natasha McShane and her friend Stacy Jurich in Chicago three years ago.

Heriberto Viramontes, 34, was convicted at Cook County Criminal Court in the US city on Thursday.

The pair were attacked and robbed in the early hours of 23 April, 2010.

Ms McShane, who had been attending the University of Illinois at the time of the assault, has been left with severe brain damage.

Just before 18:00 local time - midnight UK time - on Thursday, her family, along with Stacy Jurich and her family, were called for the verdict.

The trial lasted five days, it took three and a half hours to find Viramontes guilty on all charges.

There were emotional scenes as the verdicts were delivered.

Shortly afterwards, a statement written by Natasha's brother, Conor, was read out to the press by the state's attorney.

"This crime against my sister has changed my life forever. It has had a devastating impact on our entire family," the statement said.

Conor McShane said the family was pleased and relieved at the verdicts. But he also said that Natasha's life had been ruined by the attack. She has been left unable to talk or walk unaided.

Stacy Jurich said that the time since the attack had been the most difficult in her life.

"We have had a lot of support from our families, friends and complete strangers," she said.

"But the last three and a half years have been the hardest time in my entire life. Not only was it a struggle for me, but it has been a struggle to face what happened to my best friend, Natasha - something I will never forget."

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said: "Chicago is a beautiful city, it is a shame that someone like Natasha McShane, who was here to continue her schooling, someone who was visiting from Ireland, that she was not able to enjoy all the beauty that Chicago has to offer.

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

"Instead of welcoming our visitors with an open heart, she was confronted with a baseball bat. I am very pleased that this man has been held responsible for the brutal and senseless beating of both Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane."

Viramontes faces between six and 120 years in prison.

In July, his accomplice Marcy Cruz was jailed for 22 years after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted murder over the attack.

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