Jury selection begins in case of Bucktown baseball bat attack - KMSP-TV

Trial expected to start Wednesday in Bucktown bat beating case

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of the man who's accused of beating Natasha McShane in the Bucktown neighborhood three years ago. The brutal attack left the young woman from Ireland severely disabled with brain damage.

McShane's parents and siblings made a brief appearance at the Criminal Courts building. After traveling here from Ireland, they chose not to watch jury selection. They are expected to be in the courtroom for most of the trial.

"This case is extremely important to Ireland, because a lot of students come here from Ireland, and the Chicago they have heard about is not the Chicago that they should have seen," John Gorski, President of the Irish American Heritage Association, said Tuesday.

In April of 2010, Irish exchange student Natasha McShane had been working for almost a year at Butch McGuire's. She had just learned that her stay in the U.S. might be extended, and her boss recalls she was excited.

"Natasha was one of those kids who was always in a good mood," former employer Bobby McGuire remembers Natasha. "You know, she was happy to be in school, happy to be in Chicago."

"Her friend had gotten good news at work as well, so they both had something to celebrate, and you know, went out that night in the mood of celebration," he adds.

But the night turned from celebration to horror, as the 24-year-old McShane and her friend, Stacy Jurich, were robbed in Bucktown. The robber beat them with a baseball bat.

Jurich needed 15 staples for her head wounds, but McShane suffered far worse injuries. At her parents' home in Northern Ireland, she still requires 24-hour care and after some initial improvement, he has had setbacks.

"My understanding today is that most of that progress is gone away," McGuire adds. " She's not walking, she's not speaking anymore."

Heriberto Viramontes, 34, was charged with the crime. An alleged accomplice, Marcy Cruz, confessed in a plea deal for a 22 year sentence.

Viramontes smiled and gave a thumbs up to his mother and relatives as he entered the courtroom Tuesday. His attorneys are expected to argue he was mistakenly identified.

Prosecutors plan to introduce a video, showing how the crime has dramatically changed Natasha McShane's life. Two veteran defense attorneys say they're surprised the jury will see that video.

"I am very surprised," says attorney Sam Adam Jr. "It seems very prejudicial and it seems like something the judge should keep out."

Asked if she has ever seen a tape like this introduced as part of the prosecution case, defense attorney Vivian Tarver-Varnado responded: "I have not, I have not. And it could be highly prejudicial."

In addition to that video, McShane's mother is also expected to testify about her daughter's injuries.

Among the jurors selected Tuesday: a human resources professional in the health care field, a former Boeing employee, and a sales consultant.

One of the potential jurors who appeared for jury duty was Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, who identified herself to the judge but was not immediately excused.

Opening statements should take place Wednesday.

One reason it's taken three years for this trial to begin is a dispute regarding the DNA evidence in the case.

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