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90-year jail sentence for Natasha attacker

May 26, 2014

The 90-year sentence handed down to the man who attacked Silverbridge woman, Natasha McShane, and her American friend, Stacy Jurich, on a Chicago street four years ago has been welcomed by the McShane family who said it represents a “sense of justice” for the two women.

Heriberto Viramontes was convicted in October of the robbery and brutal beating of Stacy and Natasha on 23rd April 2010.

On Thursday he was ordered to serve consecutive sentences of 25 years for the attempted murder of Natasha, 25 years for the attempted murder of Stacy, 20 years for armed robbery and 20 years for causing great bodily harm.  The 35-year-old will have to serve at least 85 per cent of the 90 years, the punishment effectively meaning he will die in jail.

Natasha’s parents and brother returned to Chicago for the sentencing and her mother, Sheila, took to the stand to read a victim impact statement on behalf of her daughter.

She described the continuing pain, anguish and emotional turmoil Natasha and her family are going through.

“A swing of the bat is what robbed our beautiful daughter and sister of her future,” Mrs McShane said of her daughter, who at the time of the attack was a graduate student in urban development at the University of Illinios at Chicago. “Why Natasha? Why us?  She is still alive, but it feels we have lost her and that’s a scar that will never heal. As Natasha’s parents, we feel as if we are rearing our 27-year-old daughter all over again.”

Mrs McShane told the court that her daughter still needs 24-hour care, can only speak a few words and is generally confined to a wheelchair.  She recounted how Natasha’s life has drastically changed since the attack: “One thing is for certain, Natasha will have a life sentence of her own. A life sentence of pain, misery and unfulfillment.”

Judge Jorge Alonzo handed down the 90-year sentence saying Viramontes’ crime was “cowardly” and “cold-blooded,” and there was “no real prospect for rehabilitation.”

The McShane family welcomed the ruling: “We are pleased with the sentence. It provides us with some sense of justice for Natasha and Stacy. We’d like to thank the state’s attorney’s office and the jury for an amazing job on this case,” Mrs McShane said afterwards.

Voicing her satisfaction at the sentence, SDLP Councillor Geraldine Donnelly said: “I am pleased that Natasha has got justice from the courts in America, however, what she has  lost can never be regained.  She has suffered so much as a result of the horrific attack she endured.  We can only hope and pray that with the support of her family, friends, and health staff that she will continue to make progress.”

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