Mother: Daley name protected son's killer

December 15, 2011 5:14:24 PM PST
Seven years ago, David Koschman died after he was punched in the face by Richard 'RJ' Vanecko, a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. His mother wants a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

Nanci Koschman believes that Vanecko would have faced homicide charges in her son's death if he weren't in the Daley family.

In April 2004, an alcohol-fueled street quarrel between David, 21, and Vanecko turned fatal. According to police, Daley's nephew threw a punch, striking David. David fell, hit his head, and died 11 days later.

Vanecko was not criminally charged. In the years that followed, questions were raised about whether police prosecutors soft-pedaled around a homicide investigation for political reasons. The Chicago Sun-Times has produced numerous stories about conflicting witness accounts and police lineup procedures.

"He may have been nobody to all of you, but he was my heart and soul and I just need for him to rest in peace so that when I lay my head down I don't cry myself to sleep every night," Nanci Koschman said.

Now David's mom and others want an independent prosecutor to investigate.

"There are missing files, there are investigative lapses, there are failure to connect the dots," Lock Bowman, Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University, said.

"Petitioners believe that had Vanecko not been a member of the powerful Daley family he would have been charged with the homicide," the request says.

The state's attorney has insisted that politics played no part in the investigation, but that there was simply insufficient evidence to bring charges.

A re-opened Chicago police investigation concluded last February that "Vanecko, alone, punched David Koschman," but that "Koschman was clearly the assailant," and that his "actions caused Vanecko to take action and defend himself." But attorneys for Mrs. Koschman and the Better Government Association say the case needs a fresh look from an independent prosecutor.

"This is not an attempt to hang out RJ Vanecko or disrespect the Daley family. This is about the process of the justice system," Andy Shaw, Better Government Association, said.

"I've never been in this for the money. An apology might have been nice, from the police department, but I never got anything, so I just went back to my house and, quite honestly, I've been hiding out just trying to learn how to survive every day," Koschman said.

The request for a special prosecutor will be heard a week from today by Judge Paul Biebel.

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez will be asked whether or not she favors the idea, a decision she has not yet made. Alvarez has insisted that politics has no bearing on criminal investigations, and that charges weren't brought in the Koschman case because there wasn't enough evidence to do so. At the same time, she's supported the notion of an outside investigation in the past. One is currently under way now and is being conducted by the city's inspector general.


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