Richard "RJ" Vanecko entered a not-guilty plea Monday to an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with the 2004 death of David Koschman.
The namesake of two mayors named Daley, Vanecko returned from his home in California to Chicago this weekend for his first courtroom appearance in the case. Police released his booking photo Saturday night.
The judge assigned to the case was Arthur Hill, Jr. also has a Daley connection. He's a former prosecutor and high-level supervisor under Richard M. Daley in the state's attorney's office.
Judge Hill went on record disclosing his numerous connections with the former mayor, who promoted Hill multiple times. Daley also appointed Hill to the CTA board, and Hill disclosed that while he was an attorney in private practice, he worked on municipal bond transactions for the city.
He said he believed he could be fair and objective in being the judge in this case but disclosed this to both sets of attorneys and is giving all parties a chance to request a different judge.
A status hearing was set for Dec. 17.
"He's a wonderful man with a lot of experience," Vanecko attorney Tom Breen said.
Koschman, a 21-year-old man from Mt. Prospect, was out on Division Street in the wee hours of the morning when the group he was in ran into Vanecko's group. A lone punch was thrown. Koschman died 11 days later from head injuries after not recovering consciousness.
Chicago Police never interviewed Vanecko, witnesses failed according to police to identify him in a lineup. Police concluded, though only one punch was thrown by Vanecko, that the cause of the altercation was self defense.
Judge Michael P. Toomin this year called that analysis a "fiction" created by police and ordered a special prosecutor be put on the case. That prosecutor, Dan Webb, announced the charge against Vanecko last week.
Vanecko will be arraigned Monday morning at the Criminal Courts building at 26th and California.