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No New Indictments in Koschman Case, Special Prosecutor Says

162-page report following investigation into 2004 death of David Koschman to remain under seal pending trial of Richard Vanecko

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A grand jury will not make any new indictments in the homicide case involving Mayor Daley's nephew. But exactly what they found won't be released anytime soon. Carol Marin reports. (Published Friday, Sep 20, 2013)

    No new indictments. That is the bottom line in a report released by special prosecutor Dan Webb who was appointed to investigate the death of 21-year old David Koschman.

    Webb said the special grand jury's work has been completed after 17 months and said the statute of limitations had expired on charging anyone else.

    "No additional indictments have been sought because the applicable statute of limitations bars any prosecutions under state law for the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state’s attorney’s office actions taken in 2004," Webb wrote in a court filing. "... and there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any state criminal law violations as to actions taken by CPD personnel in 2011."

    Webb's 162-page report detailing the investigation was sealed, leaving unanswered questions, at least publicly, about the actions of police and prosecutors who looked into the 2004 death of the young man from Mount Prospect. The seal was placed pending the trial of R.J. Vanecko.

    "While there is a strong public interest that supports the immediate release of the Report, there is an overriding interest in protecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial," Webb said in his motion to Cook County Judge Michael P. Toomin to seal the report. "Because of the keen public interest in this case, it is likely that release of the detailed evidence set forth in the Report could result in significant and continuing publicity adverse to Mr. Vanecko’s defense."

    Webb said the report includes information from 146 individual witnesses and more than 22,000 documents.

    Through her spokeswoman, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said she was "pleased that the Special Prosecutor makes clear in his statement that there was no evidence of any kind suggesting misconduct on the part of anyone in the State’s Attorney’s Office during her administration’s investigation into the Koschman matter," 

    The same grand jury last December indicted the now 39-year-old Vanecko on one count of involuntary manslaughter. Vanecko’s uncle, Richard M. Daley, was mayor at the time of Koschman’s death.

    Not long after he was struck, Koschman’s mother, Nanci, said a police detective told her, "I would be very impressed by the names of the people who were involved."

    Koschman died May 6, 2004. Though the Cook County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide, the initial investigation by the Chicago Police Department failed to bring a charge.
    A second investigation was prompted by a 2011 Freedom of Information Act request for police documents filed by the Chicago Sun-Times.

    On March 1, 2011, Chicago police concluded R.J. Vanecko threw the punch that killed Koschman, but in self-defense.

    Alvarez said at the time that Koschman was the aggressor that night during an alcohol-fueled argument and no charges were warranted.

    In December 2011, Nanci Koschman asked that a special prosecutor be appointed. In April 2012, Toomin selected Webb, a former U.S. Attorney, to investigate.

    The grand jury met in the law offices of Winston and Strawn, where Webb is the senior partner.

    Their task included not only determining if charges should be brought in Koschman’s death but also whether or not a cover-up pursued.

    On the night of April 24, 2004, Koschman and four friends headed to Chicago to party.

    "I hugged and I kissed him and he hugged me real tight and I said, 'Have a great time and be careful,'" Nanci Koschman recalled in a 2011 interview.

    At 3:15 a.m. on the 25th, Koschman and his friends were walking west on Division Street and Vanecko and three friends were walking east. The two groups bumped into each other and an argument began. Both groups, according to police reports, had been drinking heavily.

    Vanecko, who stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds, struck Koschman, according to police. The single punch caused Koschman, who stood nearly a foot shorter and weighed far less than Vanecko, to fall to the ground and strike his head on the pavement. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

    "We made the decision to turn off life support and let him go. And I sat and held him ‘til his heart stopped," Nanci Koschman said.

    Vanecko fled the scene the night of the altercation and was never questioned by authorities.
    Police, prosecutors and those on the scene that night in 2004 are all believed to have been subpoenaed to testify as the grand jury was charged with looking not only at the death but whether there had been a cover-up.