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?

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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