Daley nephew charged in 2004 death - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Daley nephew charged in 2004 death

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David Koschman David Koschman
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, more than eight years after he allegedly punched a young man in the head outside of a North Side bar.

What happened and what didn't happen to Richard J. Vanecko after he allegedly punched and fatally wounded 21-year-old David Koschman, has been the subject of a major investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times for the past two years.

The case has been under investigation by a special grand jury, which is also looking into whether police and prosecutors went easy on Vanecko because of his family's clout.

After being told for years that her son was responsible for his own death, Monday's indictment brought Koschman's mother to tears.

"I'm going to go tell David that he can finally be at peace. That someone is being charged," Nanci Koschman said.

It was in April of 2004 that David Koschman and a few buddies bumped into R.J. Vanecko and his friends near Rush and Division around 3 a.m. Words were exchanged and Vanecko allegedly punched the much smaller Koschman in the head, cracking his skull on the hard pavement. Vanecko ran off, and Koschman died eleven days later.

Koschman's mother says a detective told her that her son was at fault and that she shouldn't pursue the case.

"He told me I'd be impressed by the names of the people that were involved in the case, and that if I tried to sue, they would keep me tied up in court for years," Nanci explains.

The case disappeared for years, until a series of stories in the Chicago Sun-Times prompted a Cook County Judge to appoint Dan Webb as special prosecutor, who convened a special grand jury.

On Monday, that grand jury returned a single count of involuntary manslaughter against Vanecko and continues to investigate whether police or prosecutors engaged in a politically-motivated cover-up.

"The failures to properly investigate and to indict eight years ago speaks volumes about the inadequacies of that investigation," says Flynt Taylor.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez fought the appointment of a special prosecutor, but said for the first time Mondday that she had her own grand jury looking into the case until Webb was appointed.

"I believe that this office has handled this case with the utmost integrity from the get-go," Alvarez said.

"I don't want Mr. Vanecko to go to jail. That's not what this is all about," Nanci Koschman said. "This has never been vengeful. I just wanted the record stated clearly…that he didn't cause his own death."

Vanecko's legal team said in a statement they are disappointed by the indictment, saying multiple earlier investigations found no wrongdoing on Vanecko's part. They say it was Koschman who acted in an "unprovoked, physically aggressive manner."

Vanecko works in the entertainment industry in California, but will have to return to Chicago next week to appear in court for arraignment.

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