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Trial resumes for New Lenox man accused of throwing near-fatal punch

Joseph P. Messina

Joseph P. Messina

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Updated: January 7, 2013 7:16AM



The trial of a New Lenox man accused of severely injuring another man with a punch outside a Mokena bar in 2009 resumed Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Joseph Messina, 24, hit Eric J. Bartels, 29, outside 191 South on July 25, 2009, causing Bartels to fracture his skull on the pavement and suffer a brain injury that left him paralyzed, blind and mute.

Messina is facing a bench trial before Judge Sarah Jones that has stopped and started while prosecutors dealt with other cases. During the most recent day of testimony in June, a friend of Bartels said the victim told Messina to “take care” of a blood stain on his shirt before Messina hit him.

On Wednesday, Mokena Detective Greg Selin testified he was given the gray T-shirt Bartels was wearing after it was cut off by staffers at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. William Anselme, a forensic scientist who examines biological evidence in the state crime lab, testified blood was found on the shirt.

Anselme also told Assistant Will County State’s Attorneys Mike Fitzgerald and Chris Koch he also found blood on another T-shirt and pair of blue jeans, while a third shirt and gym shoes were tested, but didn’t have any blood on them.

Prosecutors expect to finish their case Thursday. Messina is represented by attorneys Dave Carlson and Ken Zelazo.

Under cross examination, Anselme told Zelazo he took “samples” from the clothing for DNA evidence, but did not perform any testing.

Bartels’ mother, Janet, has sued the hospitals and two doctors who treated her son. She claims the staff of Silver Cross Hospital, which was in Joliet at the time, miscommunicated with the responders who brought Bartels there, and miscommunicated with staff at St. Joe’s when he was transferred there, which delayed the treatment of his brain injury.



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