News Alert
Update: Lockdown Lifted at Sandburg High School

Court Watch: Trial Looms for Man Accused of Knocking Another into Coma in 2009

Palos Hills man accused of stealing donation canister for cancer patient released from jail. Hate crime defendants set for trial next month.

The Southland's major criminal and civil cases heard in Cook County and Will County courts this week.

Leading the Docket

NEW LENOX — After two and a half years, a New Lenox man accused of beating a Joliet man into a coma may be headed for trial.

A judge is looking to conclude pretrial hearings in the case against Joseph P. Messina, accused of knocking a man unconscious outside 191 South in Mokena in 2009. Messina, who was celebrating his 21st birthday at the time, has been indicted on two counts of aggravated battery.

As bar-goers were leaving 191 South the night of July 25, words were exchanged over a T-shirt. Shoving and punching followed, and Eric Bartels fell and hit his head on the pavement, according to police reports at the time.

Several witnesses have told police Messina hit Bartels so hard that his head resonated when it smacked the asphalt. According to the police report, while the man lay unconscious Messina “struck him again in the face and then raised his arms in victory.”

Bartels suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Police said they found Messina, a former Lincoln-Way Central High football star, hiding in the parking lot in the back of his family's van. 

The state has compiled a list of more than 50 witnesses—including police, doctors and forensic scientists—who could be called to testify.

Messina is due back in court on Feb. 24.

Cook County

EVERGREEN PARK — A man accused of has been assigned to a courtroom in suburban Skokie. Marcus A. Parker, 23, of Evergreen Park, has been indicted on charges of armed robbery, aggravated unlawful restraint, and four counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He and co-defendant Joel Shavers, of Chicago, are expected to enter a plea on Friday, Jan. 13.

OAK LAWN — A February trial date for two men charged with armed robbery and hate crime will stand, though a third and final pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 30. Prosecutors allege that Mohammed Shaban, of Hickory Hills, and Akram Alshoweat, of Oak Lawn, yelled anti-gay slurs while punching, kicking and whipping a woman they believed was a lesbian inside a Hickory Hills restaurant.

Their attorneys have dug up evidence—a DVD from her days as an Olympic mixed martial arts fighter—that is supposed to challenge the woman’s presumed innocent role in the fight.

PALOS HILLS — A Palos Hills man accused of taking  for an Alsip woman fighting cancer waived his right to a preliminary hearing, thereby sparing the state from presenting evidence that probable cause exists to bring the charges to trial. Joseph Campione, of Palos Hills, is scheduled back on Jan. 26 for arraignment. He turned himself in on Dec. 22 and posted $10,000 bond the next day.

On the Docket Next Week


Lazerrick Mosley will be sentenced to at least 26 years behind bars. Cook County Judge John J. Hynes found him guilty of killing and robbing a Tinley Park mechanic. Members of Mosley’s own family, including his father, testified against him late last year.


Pretrial hearings begin for David Potter, who pleaded not guilty last month to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in a Mokena park.

Also returning in Will County court—Nicholas Gorny, who’s accused of killing a 70-year-old Tinley Park woman in a DUI accident.


Norberto Rodriquez, a former Chicago cop from Oak Forest, accused of killing his estranged wife in 2010.

Three men accused of shooting a 24-year-old woman during an attempted burglary in Oak Lawn.

Darrell Stephenson, charged with multiple counts related aggravated criminal sexual abuse and possession of child porn.

Michael Angel, a former School District 210 employee, comes before a judge on the charge of obstructing justice. He has a pending criminal trespass to property case that will be heard at the end of the month.


Marcus A. Parker, of Evergreen, charged with .


Looking for more crime news?

Mokena mom January 07, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Like father, like son. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Bring on the witnesses.
Adam Wilson January 07, 2012 at 05:25 PM
mokena mom--------- that comment is directed towards what????
Adam Wilson January 07, 2012 at 05:34 PM
If that is directed towards "big" joe and "little" joe that is beyond ignorant. They would help anyone in need. This is a TRAGIC event that could of happened to ANYONE. A bar fight gone bad. All you can do is pray for both families
Missy January 08, 2012 at 06:23 AM
I don't know the family personally, but this IS a tragic case. A young and dumb (weren't we all?) 21 year old drank too much, and made the mistake of getting into a fight. I am sure if he could go back and change things he would..not only to get himself out of trouble, but to also prevent the other young man from suffering such a severe injury. I have raised my own sons warning them that sometimes minor actions can have severe, life-altering consequences, and this is exactly what has happened here. I hope that both of the families can find some peace.
Frankforter January 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Weren't we all ("young and dumb")? No, we weren't.
Missy January 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Frankforter, I absolutely in no way believe that you didn't make any mistakes in your life due to being young. And if you say you never did...then you're just lying. But whatever helps you sleep at night is fine with me.
john taxpayer January 09, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Missy: Minor action? Its not like he left a banana on the sidewalk and someone slipped and fell LOL.. Now there is always 2 sides to a story and I dont really care about either. I do feel bad for the 2 kids and fams... .But to say "sometimes minor actions can have severe, life-altering consequences, and this is exactly what has happened here." You must be kidding right? Did you read the story or were you thinking of what just happened on real housewives or something? ......punching a person in the face...THEN while he is down “struck him again in the face and then raised his arms in victory.”...Not minor....MAJOR... You dont do these things, if you do you pay the price.
Missy January 09, 2012 at 12:30 PM
John, I am certainly not saying that he shouldn't pay the price. He shouldn't have gotten that drunk and he shouldn't have gotten that violent. But did YOU read the article? Or perhaps you just skimmed it? Words were exchanged, shoving and punching ensued, and he FELL and hit his head. Yes it was caused by Messina and he should pay consequences, but unfortunately in this society many young men (and often women) get into fist fights and rarely does it turn into something like this. To me the minor mistake was going out and drinking too much, and it turned into this horrific situation and yes, someone has to pay for it. But if you think that Joe intended to go out that night and put someone in a coma...if you think for a minute that he thought it was even a remote possibility, I would bet he would have stayed home. I can see from your sexist post what type of person you are and perhaps instead of being here you should go take a look at yourself in the mirror.
Adam Wilson January 09, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Apparently everyone thinks we live in a fantasy world where nothing goes wrong. This is the 21st century not the 50's people. Anyone who could even hint saying joe did this on purpose is naive and outright stupid. The part that was not included in the article was that joe was sticking up for a friend that was half his size and got in the middle of the word exchange and took it upon himself to deal with the situation. Violence ofcourse is not the answer, he was 21 and dumb(everyone was there). You are only lying to yourself or had NO LIFE if you say you werent dumb at one time. As i said before he would do ANYTHING for anyone. This is that exactly, he stuck up for friend and now he has to think of those actions everyday. Yes he will have to pay the price for his swings; this again is a tragic event that could happen to anyone that gets in a bar fight. How many bar fights do you hear of EVERY weekend? And how many turn out like this? Sure some one get arrested maybe spend the night in jail but this is a tragedy for both families. Just because we live in the suburbs does not mean we live in a utopia. Classic example of generation differences with previous posts..missy--thank you for having a REAL grip of reality realizing the unfortunate situation. Frankforter, John if you dont know the FACTS dont SPECULATE and try to put someone else down to make yourself look better. Only makes you look like a uneducated wannabe "know-it-all"
Ed January 09, 2012 at 06:41 PM
This coward Messina will find out how tough he is while in prison for the next twenty years. Maybe even get smashed in the head while he is laying on the gound too.
Kim June 19, 2012 at 07:13 PM
For those defending this useless piece of trash, what if that were your son, brother, father? I can assure you that you wouldn't find it an accident. Fights happen, yes. However this kid went after him when he was down. Talk about a cowards way of fighting! He deserves to rot in prison for what he did. My nephew will never know his father bc of some piece of trash coward!
D Greg June 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The name-calling and insults thrown to other family members is appalling. There's a price to be paid for the poor victim's family - but the mud slinging in this comment board is unnecessary. If you want to call people names and trash their families - go to the article about the Ashford House attacks. The families involved in this case have enough stress and sadness.
Frankforter II June 26, 2012 at 02:19 AM
"They would help anyone in need." "Little" Joe, when he was sticking up for his friend, had a chance to help in 2009. If the descriptions are truthful, his actions did not help. "You are only lying to yourself or had NO Life if you say you werent dumb at one time." There is dumb. . . and then there is criminally dumb. I think you will soon learn from your friend that it is the criminally dumb who have no life. "Classic example of generation differences" There is no generational difference here. The actions described by witnesses were criminal in the 1950s, they were criminal in 2009, and I don't see them being decriminalized anytime before you have a child of your own. The judge will soon decide if we live in a fantasy world where things go wrong-- and your friend's actions are an "unfortunate situation." I suspect the judge will decide that in the south suburbs these actions are criminal and must be punished. Defending a friend is understandable; misunderstanding the community's scorn for the person who is responsible for what happened is foolish.
Barbara June 26, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Sad when in this modern age people who were not involved directly judge without cause. Having a comment post with name calling is inappropriate. Both families are suffering because of this and comments like those don't help, if anything it just create negativity in a community. In our family we lost a member due to drinking and both members involved were drinking. This should be left for the court system with all the real evidence to conclude this tragic story. Prayers go out to both families, because both are suffering. One more than another but both suffering.


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