It was to be a weekend to remember for 21-year old David Koschman of Mount Prospect. A Saturday night of clubbing with four friends in the bars of Chicago’s Division Street. They had all just come of age.
Sunday they had tickets for the game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets.
But in the early morning hours of April 25, 2004, a drunken argument led to the death of Koschman.
Two groups, according to the police report, got into a “verbal argument” on what had been a rainy night.
In that other group was Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, the namesake and grandson of the late mayor Richard J. Daley, and the nephew of the then-current mayor Richard M. Daley.
One punch was thrown, striking Koschman, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement. Never regaining consciousness, he died eleven days later from injuries sustained by the punch and the fall.
Now nearly eight and a half years later, R.J. Vanecko has been charged.
“He was growing up to be a fine young man,” his mother Nanci Koschman said of her son in an interview in 2011.
Koschman, who stood 5’5” tall and weighed about 140, loved music and cars. “I’d describe him more of a lover than a fighter,” his mother said. “He made a bad decision that night” to go out drinking.
After high school, David Koschman remained at home, attending classes at Harper College and was working for an insurance company.
His father died suddenly when he was 12 and the bond between mother and son grew even stronger, according to his aunt and uncle.
“This has been hard for her to have to talk to you, or to go to court, have all those cameras focused on her, because that’s not who she is,” Sue Pazderski, Nanci’s sister, said.
Sue and Richie Pazderski accompanied Nanci Koschman to Northwestern Hospital on Sunday April 25, 2004. David Koschman was in the intensive care unit and unconscious.
“They kept saying he’s young, he’s strong,” Sue Pazderski remembered. But on the eleventh day, David Koschman was taken of life support and died in his mother’s arms.
The Medical Examiner ruled Koschman’s death a homicide.
“Because it was a homicide, somebody had to go to ID the body,” said Sue Pazderski who recalled taking the trip to the morgue with her husband,…(because) “they wouldn’t release the body to the funeral home.”
The re-investigation of David Koschman’s death has, according to Sue Pazderski, in some ways fortified her sister.
“I think it’s made her a little bit stronger,” she said. “I think she’s been able to, to talk about this with a little bit more determination.”
“Everyone just thinks he was this young punk from the suburbs coming down to Chicago to create trouble and that wasn’t what he was doing,” Nanci Koschman said in 2011.
Her son, she said, was a responsible kid, who took her to the movies and loved life.
There is no doubt Koschman would have loved the Cubs game that Sunday afternoon. The Cubs won 4-1 on a two-hit gem by pitcher Matt Clement.