Mistrial Over Missing Fist Photo in Coma Punch Case?
Defense attorneys are bidding to have a mistrial declared in the case of a tragic bar fight because the police can't find a photo of the defendant's fist.
The police had 11 days to come up with a photo of the fist they say put a Joliet man in a coma.
They failed to find it, and now the attorneys representing the New Lenox man charged with throwing the tragic coma punch are going for a mistrial.
The purported picture shows the hand of Joseph Messina, the man standing trial for allegedly pummeling 29-year-old Eric Bartels of Joliet in July 2009 so severely that Bartels is still in a coma.
Messina, 23, allegedly knocked Bartels to the ground with one punch outside the Mokena bar 191 South. After Bartels fell, a witness testified, Messina straddled him, punched his face again, then "raised his arms above his head in victory."
Mokena police Detective Gregory Selin testified on June 28 that he photographed Messina's right hand after the New Lenox man was taken into custody following the July 2009 incident.
Neither prosecutors nor Messina's lawyers were aware of the picture and, in the words of Will County Judge Sarah Jones, the trial "just came to a screeching halt after that."
Jones gave the police until Monday to find the photo but apparently it is still missing, if it exists at all.
Prosecutor Chris Koch admitted to Judge Jones during a brief hearing Monday morning that the police have not come up with the picture.
"To my knowledge, there's no record of a photograph existing," said Koch, who later added, "I believe they've done a throrough job to see if it exists."
Dave Carlson, one of the two attorneys representing Messina, said he would have papers drawn up and filed by Friday in hopes of Jones declaring a mistrial.
A hearing was set for July 19 to determine whether Carlson's bid succeeds or if the trial will continue.