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Victim talks as jury selection begins in acid attack trial

September 23, 2010 8:24:27 PM PDT
It came without warning. Esperanza Medina was badly burned when someone threw acid in her face. She has battled to recover and is now ready to testify against two people charged in the attack.

Jury selection began Thursday in that trial, and Esperanza Medina talked Thursday about her ordeal with ABC7 Chicago.

"I cried. I said, 'Why did they do this to me? Why did they do this to me?' Medina said.

The motive, say prosecutors, was jealousy. Esperanza Medina was dating another woman's ex-husband. Now, after more than two years and 17 reconstructive surgeries, Ms. Medina was finally ready to talk about what happened. She says she is sharing her story publicly for just one reason:

"I don't care anymore. I'm going to show them what they did to me," said Medina.

After nearly two years of hiding her face, her scars, and really herself, Medina is ready to step out of the shadows. Her first stop will be testifying at the trial of two of the women charged with throwing acid in her face.

"Somebody said, 'Hey.' So, I turned, and this person came real close and said, 'This is for you' and threw me that cup of coffee," Medina said. "Suddenly, I just started screaming. I didn't know if it was burning or what the sensation was, I just knew I was scared. The neighbor said 'oh my god.' when she said 'oh my god' and I saw his look I knew it was not coffee, it was something else."

That was the last Medina remembers of that July day in 2008 when she was heading to work from her Logan Square apartment. She was in a coma for the next two-and-a-half months. When she emerged and saw her reflection in a mirror:

"Seeing all this disfigured, it's like, 'What am I going to do now? Why am I staying here for? I don't have anything to give.' I even pleaded to the doctor, 'Why did you save me? You should have just let me die,'" the woman said.

Medina credits her family and a woman named Karli Butler with helping her regain confidence. Butler was also the victim of an acid attack. For months she kept calling, writing and eventually visiting Esperanza, telling her life would get better.

" 'Don't you see I'm a monster,' I used to tell her crying," said Medina.

Medina plans to testify wearing short sleeves so her scars will be on full display. Part of the healing process, she says, will be staring down her attackers.

"Fighting back and letting them know they didn't destroy me. On the contrary they made me stronger. I'm gonna fight for whoever I have to fight to get to the end of it," she said.

Medina says, aside from her injuries, the hardest part of the last two years has been the looks she gets from strangers when she walks down the street. She says she wishes people would politely ask about what happened rather than simply stare.

It looks like Medina will take the stand to testify against her accused attackers next week.


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