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Vanecko Indictment Sets Up "He Said, She Said" Debate

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Vanecko Indictment Sets Up 'He Said, She Said' Debate

Cook County State's Attorney speaks to reporters on April 6, 2012, after Judge Michael Toomin approved a request to appoint a special prosecutor in the death of David Koschman. Inset: Judge Michael Toomin

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The indictment of former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew has created a sort of he-said, she-said debate.

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb on Monday announced involuntary manslaughter charges against R.J. Vanecko in connection with the death of a Mount Prospect man eight years earlier.

The investigation into David Koschman’s death was stripped away from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office last April. That’s when Judge Michael Toomin approved the hiring of Webb, a former U.S. attorney, to investigate what happened during that drunken confrontation back in 2004.

In his ruling, Toomin was highly critical of the Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

"[Alvarez’s office] seems consumed with finding legal justification for Vanecko’s use of deadly force," the judge wrote in April. "While professing impartiality, [Alvarez’s office] has endeavored to denigrate the evidence against Vanecko, a rather unusual strategy for an objective prosecutor to embrace."

But on Monday, shortly after Anita Alvarez was sworn in for another term as the county's prosecutor, she dropped a bombshell: that she, too, had convened a grand jury.

"We were in the process of reviewing this case," Alvarez said this week, "re-interviewing witnesses, looking at all aspects."

But two of Koschman’s friends, who were with him that night, say they were never subpoenaed to appear before Alvarez’s grand jury.

Toomin seemed dubious about efforts of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to conduct an investigation, writing there was: "…little confidence in her ability to conduct the kind of objective ‘fresh look’ that this matter requires."

In defense, Alvarez said Monday her office has handled the case "with the utmost integrity from the get-go."

"I know I did what I was supposed to do as Cook County State’s Attorney looking at this case," she said.

The work of the special grand jury continues with vigor, looking into the role of both police and prosecutors in how the Koschman death investigation was handled.

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