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Coma-Puncher Raised Arms in 'Victory'

The New Lenox man charged with putting another man into a coma with a punch in 2009 stood over his victim and celebrated his "victory," a witness testified.

Jason Siegert was parked outside the Mokena bar 191 South on a July night in 2009 and said he had a "front row seat" for the punch that put a Joliet man in a coma.

"I saw him punch him in the face, and then I saw the taller guy just fall," Siegert said of the blow that knocked Eric Bartels to the pavement and into a coma.

"He was stiff as a board," Siegert said of Bartels, 29. "He fell from the curb straight back and landed on his head."

Joseph Messina, 23, faces aggravated battery charges for the alleged attack that broke Bartels' skull and damaged his brain. Siegert testified Wednesday during Messina's trial in .

Siegert said he and another man, Steven Kowalczyk, were parked outside the bar because they were volunteering for Paddy Wagons, a service "where we drive inebriated people home."

In Siegert's account, Messina was "harassing" people smoking outside the bar and "being aggressive toward other patrons."

He also said Bartels "held up his hands" to Messina, as if gesturing, "leave us alone," and that Bartels was trying "to shield the women he was standing with" when Messina punched him in the face.

"We were very close" to the action, Siegert, a union roofer from Chicago Heights, testified. "When the victim fell I heard his head crack the sidewalk."

Messina then straddled Bartels and punched him in the face again, Siegert said. After the second punch, he said, Messina "raised his arms above his head in victory."

"He raised his arms up, fists clenched, and kind of shook them," Siegert said.

The police arrived within minutes and found Messina hiding between the seats of a van, Siegert said. Siegert said he was the one who told officers Messina was the puncher.

Messina is being tried before Judge Sarah Jones. He passed on having his case go before a jury and is leaving his fate up to the judge.

Testimony will continue Thursday.

hazelgreen June 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Isn't Mr. Bartels' first name Eric (not Jason)? Regardless, Messina should be required to contribute towards Eric Bartels' care for the rest of their lives. I hope Messina is remorseful and realizes how stupid his actions were, he deserves to rot in jail. Praying for Eric Bartels and his family.
Michael Sewall June 28, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Yes, thank you. There must have been a mix-up with Seigert's first name there. It's fixed now.
John Roberts July 11, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Right to CCW would of helped this..Tennessee since they are allowed to carry their guns into clubs,and bars....police said people being robbed and harassed it is almost unheard of anymore,carjacking almost done too...no one really wants to get shot..when people go to a bar and fully understand everyone might just as well be armed you have a different mentality,..Yes shot for throwing a blow at me....because in the end..This is what can happen..no one knows what damage they can do to you so they should be held responsible for such reckless actions....If this man knew every one was armed do you think he would of harassed a group of people...nada...different story when you got 5 guns on ya..
Ben Wallace July 11, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Bring a gun to a fistfight? What could possibly go wrong? The absolute politest place in the world is a gun store. Burly men saying 'excuse me" or "pardon me"- zero disrespect.
Justin Time September 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM
What a scum bag loser! That's why I don't go to bars, the bar scene is full of dumb idiots. 191 South especially, it's pretty much douche bag city.

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