Chicago man sentenced to 90 years for beating exchange student

Heriberto Viramontes is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on May 21, 2014....

Heriberto Viramontes is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on May 21, 2014. REUTERS/Cook County Jail/Handout via Reuters

Mary Wisniewski, Reuters

, Last Updated: 7:01 PM ET

CHICAGO – A Chicago man was sentenced on Thursday to 90 years in prison for the brutal beating of an exchange student from Northern Ireland that left her unable to walk or speak, in a case that focused attention on violence in the third-largest U.S. city.

Heriberto Viramontes, 35, was convicted last year of bashing two women over the head with a wooden bat before robbing them in April 2010, including Natasha McShane, then a 23-year-old graduate student from Northern Ireland.

The women had been headed home from a night of dancing and celebrating when Viramontes attacked them under a viaduct in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. The beating also left the second woman, Stacy Jurich, with ongoing health problems including seizures, according to local media reports.

"Their only sin was believing it was safe to walk four or five blocks in the city of Chicago," Circuit Court Judge Jorge Alonso said during the three-hour sentencing hearing.

The attack brought international attention to the problem of violent crime in Chicago, the country's third-largest city, and stirred Chicago's large Irish-American community, which held fundraisers on McShane's behalf.

Viramontes was convicted by a jury last October of two counts of attempted murder, among other felony counts.

During the trial, Jurich testified against Viramontes, as did Marcy Cruz, a former stripper who confessed to driving the getaway van for Viramontes. Cruz was sentenced to 22 years in prison under a plea agreement, prosecutors said.


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