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Jail recordings of man accused of Natasha McShane attack played in court

Heriberto Viramontes admitted the attack on the Armagh student and her friend, saying “I probably hit her once”.

Family members of Natasha McShane in court last week
Family members of Natasha McShane in court last week
Image: M. Spencer Green/AP/Press Association Images

JURORS IN THE trial of a 34-year-old man accused of an attack on a young Irish student and her friend in Chicago three years ago have heard recorded phone conversations in which he admitted he attacked the women.

Natasha McShane, from Silverbridge in Armagh, has been left with extensive brain injures and speech problems as a result of the baseball bat attack, and still needs help walking.

Heriberto Viramontes is on trial in the US city charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery in connection with the assault on Natasha and her friend Stacey Jurich in April 2010.

In a phonecall recorded while he was in Cook County Jail, the accused could be heard questioning why he was being charged with attempted murder, the Chicago Tribune reports.

He said: “My intention was not to kill them, my intention was to get money to get high”.

“Armed robbery? Okay, fine,” he remarked later.

In another call, he downplayed the attack, saying: “I was high, I did some stupid sh**”.

“I probably hit her once … took her sh**, that’s it.”

All phonecalls with prisoners at the Cook County facility are recorded as a matter of course, and callers are reminded of that fact at regular intervals during each conversation, via automated message.

Witness

The court heard on Monday from key prosecution witness Marcy Cruz, who said she was with the alleged attacker on the night in question. Cruz, who has pleaded guilty to her part in the attack, testified against Viramontes as part of a plea deal.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Cruz said Viramontes parked her minivan in the Bucktown area of the city and left the vehicle carrying a baseball bat, telling her he didn’t want her to be involved in what he was about to do.

She said he was gone just long enough for one song to play on the radio, and that he returned carrying two purses, jumping through the rear sliding door and telling Cruz to drive off.

Viramontes’ lawyers claim he is an innocent man, and have said the evidence linking him to the crimes is circumstantial.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s report, prosecutors are expected to complete their case later today, and deliberations could begin as early as tomorrow once the jury hears from Viramontes’ defence team.

Read: Key prosecution witness tells court attack on Irish student lasted less than three minutes

Read: Friend of Irish student tells Chicago court of savage attack

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