THE grandmother of an Irish student left brain-damaged by a vicious street attack says she prays for the day she can hold a conversation again.
Relatives of Natasha Mc-Shane also hailed the bravery of her friend who ran to get help as the youngster was robbed and beaten on a night out in Chicago.
Her attacker Heriberto Viramontes was found guilty of the attempted murders of Natasha (27) and her friend Stacy Jurich as they returned home from the Bucktown neighbourhood of the US city in April 2010.
Movingly, Natasha's grandmother Bernadette McShane says she is holding out for the day she can have a chat with her beloved granddaughter.
Natasha was on an exchange programme, studying urban planning, at the University of Illinois at the time of the attack. But now the young woman from Armagh is wheelchair-bound and can barely speak.
"I'd love some day that she would have a conversation," her grandmother told RTE Radio. "As far as I am concerned, I'll never give up hope."
Natasha's brother Conor McShane said the crime had brought "great sadness and sorrow to our home".
"The verdict provides us with a sense of justice, provides us with a sense of great relief."
It was a "daily struggle", he said,, following the crime that had "ruined" Natasha's life.
Natasha would not be alive today had it not been for Ms Jurich – who ran screaming into the street to raise the alarm as Natasha lay battered on the road, Mr McShane said.
Ms Jurich (27) said she was relieved Viramontes would not walk the streets again. As she spoke of her "best friend", she broke down in tears.
The jury also found Viarmontes (34) guilty on six charges of aggravated battery and two of armed robbery.
He faces a maximum 120 years in prison when sentenced, likely later this year.
Members of the McShane family, many of whom were in court for the week-long trial, hugged each other and cried after the verdict was read out.
Viramontes' family spoke in anger that they were not given any notice the verdicts were due to be delivered. They were not in court for the verdicts.