Lawyer wants new trial for convicted batterer, says SA interfered
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com March 28, 2013 12:44PM
Joseph P. Messina
Updated: March 28, 2013 8:34PM
Interference by the Will County State’s Attorney’s office has necessitated a new trial for a New Lenox man convicted of beating a man into a coma in 2009, the New Lenox man’s lawyer claims.
Dave Carlson, who represents Joseph Messina, 24, filed a motion this week requesting a new trial with a judge other than Judge Sarah Jones, who revealed during a March 6 post-trial hearing that State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow’s secretary sent her a copy of Glasgow’s press statement on Messina’s conviction after she issued her verdict.
State’s attorney’s office spokesman Charles B. Pelkie said Carlson’s motion is purely political and “legally baseless.” Glasgow defeated Carlson in the race for state’s attorney in November.
Jones found Messina guilty of three counts of aggravated battery on Jan. 3. He was charged for allegedly 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.
Sending Jones the statement — which Jones said she did not read, and she replied with a message asking Glasgow’s office not to send her any more news releases — was an attempt by Glasgow to influence Jones before Messina’s sentencing, Carlson wrote.
The act created the appearance of impropriety, a problem that can be fixed only by a new trial with a new judge, according to the motion.
Pelkie pointed out that the email was sent after the trial was over, and would not have influenced Jones’ verdict.
“This is a legally baseless motion,” Pelkie said. “This is a motion that’s political. No other attorney in Will County would’ve filed a motion on this. It’s all based in politics.”
Jones was scheduled to issue her decision April 4 on Carlson’s previous motion for a new trial. If the motion is denied, Jones said she would proceed immediately with a sentencing hearing.
Attorneys said they would be ready to argue the latest motion on April 4.
Messina faces probation or up to five years in prison.
In March, Carlson argued that Messina deserved a new trial because Michael Glielmi, who was out with Messina the night he encountered Bartels outside the bar, refused to testify at Messina’s trial.
Several of Messina’s friends testified during the trial that they lied to the police investigating the crime. It wasn’t Messina who threw the punch, they said in court; it was their buddy, Glielmi.
Glielmi — who played football alongside 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 he incident. Formerly of Manhattan, Glielmi has since moved to St. Louis.
Prosecutors believe they have the right guy. Testimony from Messina’s friends was not believable, they said, especially compared with testimony of the independent witnesses who watched from a parked vehicle as the fight unfolded. Prosecutors also pointed out that witnesses who were in the thick of the confrontation said they did not remember seeing Glielmi that night.