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Witness claims someone else threw near-fatal punch during 2009 Mokena bar fight

Joseph P. Messina

Joseph P. Messina

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Updated: January 8, 2013 6:23AM



A friend of the man accused of severely injuring another man in a bar fight three years ago testified Thursday he saw someone else throw the punch, but kept that from police in 2009.

Steve Raymond, 26, said Joseph Messina, 24, was not the man who struck Eric J. Bartels, 29, outside 191 South in Mokena on July 25, 2009.

Bartels fractured his skull on the pavement and suffered a brain injury that left him paralyzed, blind and mute.

To celebrate Messina’s birthday, Raymond acted as the designated driver for a group of friends and was in a van preparing to pick up the rest of the group at the front door of the bar to go to a nearby restaurant.

“Driving to (the entrance) I saw Joe get pushed and then he pushed someone. The crowd came in but I saw Joe get launched to the side and I saw Mike Glielmi punch Eric Bartels,” Raymond said.

Glielmi was also in court Thursday, but Judge Sarah Jones interrupted the trial and told Messina’s lawyers to research if his testimony should be protected under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against self-incrimination.

Defense Attorney Dave Carlson asked Raymond why he didn’t tell Mokena police everything he saw during an interview that occurred three days after the fight.

“I thought Mike was going to do the right thing and come forward ...,” Raymond said before being interrupted.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Fitzgerald argued Raymond said during questioning he did not see who threw a punch because of the bystanders around the fight.

The trial stopped again while Jones and the lawyers discussed if Raymond should also be informed of his Fifth Amendment rights, but it appears the three-year statute of limitation for obstructing justice has expired and Raymond was not under oath when he was questioned by detectives.

“You just don’t know what the day is going to bring, gentlemen,” Jones told the court as she adjourned until 1 p.m. Friday. That’s when Raymond and Glielmi will return.

Bartels’ mother, Janet, has sued the hospitals and two doctors who treated her son. She claims the staff of Silver Cross Hospital, which was in Joliet at the time, miscommunicated with the responders who brought Bartels there and miscommunicated with staff at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center when he was transferred there, which delayed the treatment of his brain injury.



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