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Baseball bat attack trial looms

CHICAGO – Jury selection is set to begin this week in the attempted murder trial of a man accused of using a baseball bat to attack two young women in 2010 as they walked home in Chicago’s popular Bucktown neighborhood after a night of dancing.

Heriberto Viramontes is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery for beating Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane, both students at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

McShane – who was so severely injured she still cannot talk or walk – was an exchange student from Northern Ireland.

Both women were beaten unconscious and left on a city street. Jurich needed 15 staples in her head.

Authorities said Viramontes, 37, stole the women’s purses after beating them.

Prosecutors plan to call Marcy Cruz, who to testify against Viramontes, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Cruz pleaded guilty this summer to two attempted murder charges and was sentenced to 11 years for each count. She also agreed to testify against Viramontes.

Testimony is also expected from McShane’s doctors and her mother.

Prosecutors also will be allowed to show a three-minute video clip of McShane, which shows her moving down a hallway and trying to drink water.

Defense attorneys fought to exclude the clip, saying it would be prejudicial to jurors. But a judge agreed to allow the footage, which is part of a 90-minute film, but said audio would have to be turned off.

“In the video Ms. McShane seemingly has difficulty feeding herself and wears a bib like a small child,” court documents said. “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.”

Viramontes’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Chandra Smith, said she plans to call a witness who says he saw a different man with a baseball bat in the area shortly before the attack.

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