‘We can’t wait to get it over with and forget about it’ – Natasha McShane’s parents ahead of trial

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Community, Featured Story, News
Eyes in Newry & Mourne, and Chicago, will be glued to newspapers and television sets over the coming weeks and months as the trial of alleged attacker Heriberto Viramontes edges closer.

Natasha McShane is confined to a wheelchair

But the victim of the horrific attack, South Armagh woman Natasha McShane, won’t know a single thing about the court case. This, her parents say, is because they don’t want to bring back any bad memories for Natasha or upset her in any way. Even if they did explain it to her, whether Natasha would understand is debatable according to Liam. He told the Chicago Tribune, “She’s moving her head around more. She’s tracking. She seems to be more with it. How great (her understanding) is, I don’t know.” So, while the world waits for justice for the 27 year old, Natasha will be getting on with each passing day and week as she usually does; confined to her wheelchair, going to physical therapy three times a week and enjoying a trip to the pool. On 23rd April 2010 Natasha, then 23, was brutally attacked in Chicago and beaten close to death. At approximately 3.30am on the night in question, Natasha and her friend Stacy Jurich were walking through the Bucktown area of Chicago. They had just left a local pub and were celebrating Natasha’s internship, which would allow her to extend her stay in Chicago. Both girls were walking through 1800 block of North Damen Avenue and chatting when they were approached from behind and beaten with a baseball bat. Suspected attacker Viramontes then allegedly made off in a getaway car driven by his friend Marcy Cruz (27) but both were arrested soon after.

Heriberto Viramontes and Marcy Cruz

Marcy Cruz has already started a 22 year stretch behind bars after pleading guilty earlier this year to two counts of murder and could be called as a witness in Viramontes’ trial. Parents Liam and Sheila plan to attend the trial with two other siblings and jury selection for the case begins today, with gang member Viramontes facing a total of 25 felony counts which include armed robbery and attempted murder. Speaking about the upcoming trial, Liam McShane told the Chicago Tribune that although Natasha won’t know right now about the trial, he remains optimistic that she will be told in the future. “Maybe someday if she can get better, she’ll have to know. But I don’t feel that I have to tell her now.” According to Liam, Natasha now goes to physical therapy three times a week and has a particular fondness for the pool via a special lift that lowers her wheelchair into it. Liam explained, “She’s only floating and kicking her legs, but she loves the pool. You know from her face, her eyes and her smile. I just tell her that, ‘You’re doing well and you’re getting better,'” he said. “‘You’re going to be 100 percent better.'” Natasha’s food still has to be cut for her by her parents and she is unable to indicate when she needs to use the bathroom. According to Liam, the only word Natasha can say is ‘Sinn’, the Gaelic word for ‘we’ or ‘us’. And because of the amount of time spent in her wheelchair Natasha has gained weight.

Natasha McShane before the attack

When the trial begins Natasha’s mother Sheila will testify and detail her daughter’s horrific injuries before a video will be played to the jury. The video, which will illustrate the heartbreaking impact of the attack on Natasha’s life, will show Natasha struggling to walk, drinking from a cup and attempting to stand on one foot. This video, says Liam, was ‘the most disturbing one’. Attorneys for Viramontes argued that the video could be too prejudicial but the judge said he would allow all but one segment of the video to be shown. That part, according to court documents, is the sad scene in which Natasha puts pegs in a pegboard as part of her physical therapy. Another court document sums up the video, “In the video Ms. McShane seemingly has difficulty feeding herself and wears a bib like a small child. The difference between Ms. McShane as a graduate student in Chicago, as she was at the time of the incident, and her life in Ireland could not be starker.” Liam doesn’t know how it will affect him and the wider family but he insists he is looking forward to the trial, if only to ‘get it over and done with and forget about it’. He added, “You don’t know what emotions the trial will bring to the surface.” Closer to home, local political representatives are hoping that the McShane family will get justice.

Newry and Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin said, “This is a heartbreaking story and it grieves me that this young woman was subjected to such brutality and left in this condition.

“I recall this incident across the news at the time and it really makes you question why anyone would want to beat someone, especially an innocent young woman and leave them for dead.

“The mindlessness and absurdity of this attack is overwhelming and I really do hope and pray that Natasha and the family see justice served on those behind this ruthless attack. What is evident is she has a family who deeply love and care for her and that is of huge importance to anyone who has been subjected to such a horrible ordeal,” he added.

Local SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley echoed Irwin’s sentiments. “The community of Silverbridge and indeed greater South Armagh is still stunned at the thought of the horrible attack on Natasha.It is heartbreaking to think that someone could attack such a beautiful and promising young woman. 

He added, “Her family and this community want to see justice done and justice seen to be done. We all continue to keep Natasha and her family in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time and in the weeks and months ahead.”

More on this story: Natasha McShane: Three years of fighting for justice Natasha McShane: Two years on Letters to the Editor, ‘Natasha McShane is in my thoughts’ Natasha McShane: Local politicians speak about brutal attack
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