Daley nephew expected to plead not guilty to charges Monday - FOX 32 News Chicago

Daley nephew expected to plead not guilty to charges Monday

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David Koschman David Koschman
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

All eyes will be on the George Leighton Criminal Courts Building Monday as the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley makes his first appearance since being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Richard "RJ" Vanecko is expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment.

Dane Placko has a preview of a heater case that mixes crime and politics.

It's been more than eight years since Vanecko allegedly threw the punch that ended the life of 21-year-old David Koschman.

But a veteran criminal attorney says Vanecko's arraignment on Monday will be a short one.

"It will probably be a total of a minute and a half, two minutes. All that is, is the way somebody is formally charged with a crime and you get to plead guilty or not guilty," said attorney Sam Adam Jr.

Sources say Vanecko's attorneys and prosecutors have already agreed on a $10,000 cash bond. The question is, will the judge require he stay in Illinois.

For the past several years, Vanecko has been working in California. It's believed he lives in a Los Angeles home with a roommate, an old buddy from Chicago who also works in the entertainment industry.

"If he seems to be leading a stable life in California, and the judge is sure he will come back, then the judge will grant permission. And he'll set certain conditions. He'll have to check in once a week with a court officer, something like that," said legal analyst Godfrey Gillett.

On Monday, Vanecko and his lawyers will also learn the name of the judge assigned to the case. Then they'll have to decide whether to exercise their one opportunity to ask for another judge.

"Now the problem with substituting is you may end up with someone you really don't like, more than the judge that was there before. So it's a risky business," Adam Jr. said.

Vanecko was charged by a special grand jury with involuntary manslaughter for the late-night fight on Rush and Division that led to Koschman's death in 2004.

That grand jury continues to investigate whether police or prosecutors buried the case because of Vanecko's clout.

Legal experts say Vanecko's lawyers will argue he was justified in punching Koschman because he feared for his safety.

"Justification is 'I can use physical force to defend myself if somebody's gonna use physical force against me'," Gillett said.

Koschman's actual trial, if it gets that far, won't start until next year. If he's found guilty he could face a sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison.

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