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Bat-wielding robber stole daughter’s voice, mom says: ‘We don’t have conversations’

Liam McShane (center) father NatashMcShane walks incourt Wednesday afternoGeorge N. LeightCriminal Courts Building Chicago. NatashMcShane was beaten with baseball bwhile

Liam McShane (center) the father of Natasha McShane walks into court Wednesday afternoon at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. Natasha McShane was beaten with a baseball bat while walking with her friend Stacy Jurich in the Bucktown neighborhood. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 18, 2013 8:02AM



Natasha McShane was once a brilliant artist who loved to travel and talk.

Today, the young woman’s drawings look like “scribbles.” She cannot take a step without a walker.

And the countless conversations McShane had with her family and friends have given way to a deafening silence, her mother told Cook County jurors Wednesday.

“We don’t have conversations,” Sheila McShane said flatly in a thick brogue.

Before flying in over the weekend to testify in the trial of the man accused of pulverizing her eldest child with a baseball bat, Sheila McShane had only been to Chicago once before.

That was in 2010, when Sheila and Liam McShane rushed over together from their native Northern Ireland to tend to their severely injured daughter. Since then, they have separated, Sheila McShane said.

When questioned why her daughter couldn’t take the stand against Heriberto Viramontes, Sheila McShane quietly explained that the former exchange student “has a brain injury.”

Natasha, now 27, stays at Sheila McShane’s house in a rural town five days a week and is mostly cared for by a brother. Natasha’s father watches her at his house two days a week.

During Sheila McShane’s testimony Wednesday, Assistant State’s Attorney John Maher showed jurors three video clips of Natasha after the Bucktown attack.

In two segments, Natasha is seen walking down a hallway and slowly lifting her leg up at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Natasha’s health continued to progress when she was taken back home, Sheila McShane said. But after she suffered a seizure, she took a turn for the worse, her mother said.

She can’t walk without assistance and she cannot talk, Sheila McShane said.

When Maher presented a video that Sheila McShane recently shot of Natasha, she grew slightly emotional.

Watching a heavier-looking Natasha on the screen barely able to bring a cup to her lips, the stoic mother of five grabbed a tissue and cried.

Email: rhussain@suntimes.com

Twitter: @rummanahussain



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