Mistrial Over Missing Fist Photo in Coma Punch Case?

Defense attorneys are bidding to have a mistrial declared in the case of a tragic bar fight because the police can't find a photo of the defendant's fist.

The police had 11 days to come up with a photo of the fist they say put a man in a coma.

They failed to find it, and now the attorneys representing the New Lenox man charged with throwing the tragic coma punch are going for a mistrial.

The purported picture shows the hand of Joseph Messina, the man standing trial for allegedly pummeling 29-year-old Eric Bartels of Joliet in July 2009 so severely that Bartels is still in a coma.

Messina, 23, allegedly knocked Bartels to the ground with one punch outside the Mokena bar 191 South. After Bartels fell, a witness testified, Messina straddled him, punched his face again, then "raised his arms above his head in victory."

Mokena police Detective Gregory Selin testified on June 28 that he photographed Messina's right hand after the New Lenox man was taken into custody following the July 2009 incident.

Neither prosecutors nor Messina's lawyers were aware of the picture and, in the words of Will County Judge Sarah Jones, the trial "just came to a screeching halt after that."

Jones gave the police until Monday to find the photo but apparently it is still missing, if it exists at all.

Prosecutor Chris Koch admitted to Judge Jones during a brief hearing Monday morning that the police have not come up with the picture.

"To my knowledge, there's no record of a photograph existing," said Koch, who later added, "I believe they've done a throrough job to see if it exists."

Dave Carlson, one of the two attorneys representing Messina, said he would have papers drawn up and filed by Friday in hopes of Jones declaring a mistrial.

A hearing was set for July 19 to determine whether Carlson's bid succeeds or if the trial will continue.

donna July 09, 2012 at 11:58 PM
How convienent
Tim July 10, 2012 at 01:46 AM
What is convenient about a police officer lying on the stand? If the general public had any idea how often this happens, there would be riots in the streets. Do a quick google search for 'police missing video evidence'. http://www.komonews.com/news/local/130209878.html "The KOMO 4 Problem Solvers have discovered that tens of thousands of police dash-cam videos —potentially critical evidence— have vanished from the Seattle Police Department. " http://iamthewitness.com/Bollyn/Bollyn-Video-Evidence-Destroyed.html Williams shocked the court during the first session with Judge Fecarotta when he said that the police videotape evidence of the assault and TASERing had been "recycled." http://www.joshuapondlaw.com/missing-video-evidence
Dan Kline July 10, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Will County Justice is a joke. Riley Fox Drew Peterson Joseph Messina Large quantity of Heroin 'lost' at Sheriff's office. We need the feds to shine a light on these roaches.
I'M JUST SAYING July 10, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Serve and Protect !!!! WHO!!!! Themselfs .
Freddie Kissell July 10, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Nice job, Dave Carlson. You want to be state's attorney, yet you are trying to get this monster off scot-free. Way to go! You're right Dan, Will County justice is a joke.
te July 10, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Your putting Joe Messina in the catagory of the Riley Fox & Drew Peterson cases these were young adults drinkiing at a bar and fighting!!!, which resulted in a tragic outcome.
Robert Swale July 10, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Dave Carlson is obligated to defend his client the best he can. If you were under the gun, I predict you would want someone to represent you to the fullest. If he wins the mistrial bid, despite our distaste for what it will represent, it will show that if he were elected District Attorney, we might actually get someone in the office that is competent. Apparently, the current occupant can't even comprehend the idea of coordinating with the police and doing his due diligence before he goes to trial.
Mortimer Van Cluesen July 10, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Robt- you sure sound attorneyish. Should we still elect him for DA if he 'helped' the police 'loose' the photo? Now that might show some real competency and fortitude.
anon July 10, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Truly, how convenient. Great job guys. If these guys can't find a photograph.... This kid is going to get away with brutally assaulting someone?! What if he does it again? What does the justice system say about him then?? There are other articles online that talk about this case, Mr. Messina was hiding in a white van after he attacked Mr. Bartels and had to be threatened by a taser twice by a police officer because he knew he got caught doing something wrong and wouldn't listen to the officer. Why can't that be evidence enough along with the witnesses? We have a bad justice system.
Mokena mom July 10, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Jay July 10, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I actually think this a good thing for a few reasons, 1. I love America, this kid is innocent until proven guilty and the system works. He said he didn't do it, and it's word of mouth against word of mouth. That's not going to work in court. 2. Even if this kid did do it, it was a fight. I'm sure he never intended to put Eric in a coma for life, that is if he did do it. America is getting so wimpy. People fight and stuff happens. I would bet good money that both parties had a lot to do with the fight. 3. Are you a victim if you provoke a fight , then lose? Like if a kid gets bullied and then fights back, should the kid who got bullied get punished for fighting?? I know I would tell my kids to fight back if they did.
anon July 10, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Hey jay, Read the other articles online that give quotes on what happened from witnesses that were not affiliated with either party and from the police. Then you can say innocent until proven guilty. I'm sure he didn't mean to punch him, oh wait, he did twice and while on top of mr Bartels he raised his hands in victory. Oh yeah, he didn't mean to cause harm. Causing harm is something you have to be punished for. Did anyone else have mr Bartels DNA on them? Yep, he's innocent alright. Justice needs to be served for hurting another person, especially the way he did. He sounds unstable and there is no proof he won't do this again.
Mortimer Van Cluesen July 10, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Jay- I love apple pie and chevrolet, as well, but don't you think the kid in the coma (nobody knows HIS name) should at least get a shot at justice? He was trying to prevent a fight between the big-mouth footballer and another guy. Men need to show more physical restraint than women, and a HUGE guy needs to show even more restraint. Kind of like a Karate expert, when you are that strong- you need control. Getting loaded at a bar is a good way to loose control, coupled with a steroid rage, and you have a recipe for disaster. I understand that Messina didn't mean to do it- he's sorry (now), and should he get away with this, I doubt he'll do it again for at least six months. He's really learned his lesson, so you say. Winner-takes-all in the fight? Me GRONK. Me shake fist! Me mad ! There is NO good in any of this. 191 S is a pit. And to think they were worried about Tilted Kilt.
Jay July 10, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Hey anon, have ever been in a fight? I know I have, not a lot but it has happened. And if I read correct the only witness that said they saw Joe throw the knockdown punch is the girl that was being a loud mouth that was with Eric. That is what they say is am bias witness. That won't cut it in this case. And I guess you like a non democratic justice system. Let's just lock him up before he's heard in court. Wait this is not Russia. If you don't like the system then you can just get out. I hate to see two lives ruined, and whoever did this most likely did not mean to put him in a coma. Also who started this fight? From people around that night, they say Joe did not instigate this fight. What if Eric threw a punch inside? Can you protect yourself. Oh and alcohol is a bad reason, I'm sure both parties were loaded as well.
anon July 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Answer me this, why was joe in the van hiding? Why was he not cooperating with the police officer to where he was almost hit with the taser gun? Pretty sure you don't act like that when you are "not" guilty. I understand alcohol was involved but that is no excuse at all for what happened. So if someone was defending himself and hit the person once and then again and threw his hands up in victory does that make it okay because he was "defending"himself? They did state there were other witnesses, witnesses who didn't know either party. Hope those people that say mr Messina didn't instigate the fight gave their statements to the police.
Tim July 10, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I would rather see a thousand guilty men go free, than a single innocent man locked up. This is the foundation of what our legal system represents. Think about the alternative, REALLY think about it. What happens when you are the innocent person locked up with no evidence?
Jay July 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Agree Tim! I honestly have never met either guy, but Anon it seems you are close to Eric. I am truly sorry for what happened, but I will stand for you and your antics against our justice system. It works just fine. So your bias views are not something the public wants to hear. I guess you vote to the left side, then it would make some sense.
anon July 11, 2012 at 12:17 AM
How many cases involve just DNA? How many people have been freed and convicted because of DNA proof. Was this guy helping mr Bartels and then he decided to hide in the van? Just wondering how that works. Hope the truth comes out for all parties.
anon July 11, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Have never met mr Bartels or mr Messina. Just going off the facts that have been presented in witness and officer statements. It seems you have an opinion leading the opposite way, in which everyone is entitled to their opinion. Pretty sure this is what "patch" is for. Your comments and views on certain stories.
The Other Christine July 11, 2012 at 02:17 AM
If I got into a fight with someone and put them into a coma, I would feel absolutely horrible. Irregardless of intent, blood alcohol level, or who started it, it would be my fault. Everyone is so quick to place blame, or to say it's not their fault. I teach my kids to take responsibility for their actions, just like my parents taught me. Even when you screw up royal, not just when you do a good job. I am so tired of everyone thinking as long as they get away with something, it's okay. Where is the sense of responsibility these days?!
kara July 11, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Anon for one it wasn't a white van. There is more information to this story than the public really knows. Messina is not guilty and how many fights to u see at a bar every night....at least oneand that's any where you go
Ben Wallace July 11, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Some people seem to think it was an accident, so let Messina off the hook. He never meant to punch the guy a second time while he was out cold on the ground. He sounds like a very nice and honorable fellow. I am all for both parties attorneys presenting their evidence (evidence they can find) and letting a group of 12 locals decide what exactly happened. I don't think the jock deserves special treatment because he is popular or can handle a pigskin. >> Mokena police Detective Gregory Selin << I REALLY do not want this case decided by keystone-cop antics such as 'lost photo' . Let me have a look at that memory card- I'll pull that photo off. People should be absolutely OUTRAGED that the police bumbled this slam-dunk case. Heads should roll for gross incompetence and dereliction of duty. Not 'desk-duty' or midnight shift- canned without pension- like in the business world. Stop making excuses for losers.
anon July 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Kara-sounds like you were a witness. Hope you're testifying.
anon July 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Agreed Ben Wallace!!
Jay July 11, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I'm sorry but Ben and Anon you act as if you never have been in a fight. If not then you must not have ever got out of the bubble. Second, do you think they will bring up the the other guy had been in numerous fights over the past?
anon July 11, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Jay are you the head of a fight club or something? What am I missing about that? And what other guy and past fights? All I wish for is a fair trial.
anon July 11, 2012 at 09:28 PM
http://joliet.patch.com/articles/coma-puncher-raised-his-arms-in-victory Witnesses who didn't know either party.


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