Sentencing delayed for New Lenox man convicted in near-fatal beating
By Janet Lundquist Sun-Times Media March 6, 2013 6:56PM
Joe Messina, of New Lenox, walks into the Will County Courthouse for his sentencing hearing. He was convicted of aggravated battery in January. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 8:03AM
A former high school football standout from New Lenox who was convicted in January of dishing out a near-fatal beating deserves a new trial, his lawyer argued Wednesday.
Will County Judge Sarah Jones found Joseph Messina, 24, guilty of three counts of aggravated battery on Jan. 3. He was charged with punching Eric Bartels, 29, of Tinley Park, outside 191 South in Mokena in the summer of 2009.
Authorities said Messina punched Bartels so hard he fell and fractured his skull on the pavement, an injury that left him paralyzed.
Messina wasn’t able to present the defense he wanted because Michael Glielmi, who was out with Messina the night he encountered Bartels outside the bar, refused to testify at his trial.
A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, but Messina’s attorney, Dave Carlson, presented a motion asking Jones to give him a new trial or acquit him because of Glielmi’s refusal to testify and other issues.
Jones said she would consider the arguments and give her decision April 4.
Several of Messina’s friends testified during the trial that they lied to the police investigating the incident. It wasn’t Messina who threw the punch, they said in court, it was Glielmi.
Glielmi — who played football with Messina at Lincoln-Way Central High School, both star athletes who were coached by Glielmi’s father, Rob Glielmi — hired a lawyer immediately after the incident and never said a word about it. Formerly of Manhattan, Glielmi has since moved to St. Louis.
Prosecutors believe they have the right guy.
Messina faces probation or up to five years in prison if Jones doesn’t grant a new trial. If the motion is denied, she said, she would immediately proceed with Messina’s sentencing hearing.
Before Wednesday’s hearing began, Jones told attorneys for both sides that she received an email from Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow’s secretary, forwarding the statement Glasgow issued following her verdict.
Jones said she did not read the statement — which called Messina’s actions “a senseless and unprovoked act of aggression on the part of Joseph Messina that literally destroyed Eric Bartels’ life” — and replied with an email asking that they not send her any news releases.