Editor's note: This article ran in the July 10, 2013, edition of the Chicago Tribune..Three years after an Irish exchange student and her friend were beaten unconscious and robbed under a Bucktown viaduct, the woman who acted as the getaway driver has agreed to testify against the alleged bat-wielding attacker as part of a plea deal.
In exchange for her cooperation, Marcy Cruz, 28, faces a 22-year prison sentence and will avoid being charged with first-degree murder if the most severely injured victim dies, court records show. Cruz, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of attempted murder, agreed to testify against co-defendant Heriberto Viramontes, 33, at his scheduled trial Sept. 9.
Natasha McShane, an exchange student working toward a career in urban planning, was beaten so badly that she can no longer speak or walk. She is now living with her family in Northern Ireland. Her friend Stacy Jurich also suffered serious injuries but recovered and was able to return to work.
In a telephone interview Tuesday with the Tribune, Cruz's mother, Adelaida Perez, said her daughter has long struggled with mental health problems and deeply regrets what happened that night.
"She felt bad about what happened to the girls, real bad, and she still feels bad. She didn't know he was capable of doing something like that," she said of Viramontes.
Court documents filed as part of Cruz's plea deal provide the most detailed public account yet of what happened in April 2010 when McShane and Jurich were attacked while walking home after a night out celebrating McShane's summer internship.
The night of the attack, Cruz left her two young children with her boyfriend and went out to a nightclub called Illusions with Viramontes. The two ended up having sex and smoking marijuana in Cruz's van, according to a statement signed by Cruz.
As they drove toward Bucktown, Viramontes began talking about robbing people, according to Cruz's account.
"Look at all these rich white bitches," Cruz's statement quoted Viramontes as saying not long before she parked near Milwaukee Avenue.
According to her account, Viramontes told Cruz he didn't want her to be a part of this — a reference she understood to mean the robbery. He then grabbed her boyfriend's baseball bat and left, she told authorities.
Viramontes returned about five minutes later with two purses, threw the bat into the van and said, "Drive, drive," according to Cruz's statement. Cruz knew "something bad had happened" by the look on Viramontes' face, she told authorities.
A few blocks away, the two allegedly went through the purses. Viramontes allegedly took the credit cards, and Cruz kept some makeup and a bottle of Dior perfume.
After picking up Viramontes' girlfriend, Cruz told authorities, the two of them waited outside while Viramontes went in an apartment building on the West Side and smoked crack.
In the interview, Cruz's mother described her daughter as a troubled young woman who had threatened suicide at a young age and been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and bulimia. She never finished high school but attended cosmetology classes in Puerto Rico, where the family lived for a few years.
By 2010, Cruz had given birth to two children by two men and was making "good money" working as an exotic dancer in Chicago, her mother said.
"Marcy is not all together in the head. She was drinking and smoking weed," said Perez, 54. "I love my daughter, but I hate what happened. This is not right. She should have never been out there with nobody. She should have been at home with her kids."
Perez, who said her daughter has been cooperating with prosecutors from the beginning, said that Cruz had done "the right thing" by agreeing to testify against Viramontes. "One thing that I feel proud of her for is standing up and doing what she did right now," Perez said.
"She is a good person with a good heart," Perez said. "If she knew (what Viramontes was going to do), she would not have let him."
Since the arrest, Perez and her husband have been taking care of their daughter's two children, now 3 and 7.
"The older one was asking, 'When is Mom coming home?' I kept saying, 'Soon,'" Perez said. "He hasn't asked me lately, and I don't know what I'll say. That's something that I'm very, very scared of now."
Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributed.