R.J. Vanecko, the namesake nephew of former mayor Richard J. Daley, has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman. The charge was announced Monday.
Koschman died from a single punch thrown during a drunken argument in the early morning hours of April 25, 2004. The cold case had remained dormant until a new investigation was sparked by questions originally raised by the Chicago Sun-Times in January 2011.
At the time of his death Koschman was 21 and Vanecko 29. An argument broke out after one group bumped into the other.
In a February 2011 interview with NBC 5 News, Nanci Koschman said friends of her son explained what happened. “I mean the way his friends explained it to me, it started as a bumping and then words started exchanging. You know like F-you this. That kind of stuff,” she said.
The charge(s) were brought by a Special Grand Jury impaneled after Judge Michael Toomin appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor in April.
Koschman’s mother and aunt and uncle, Sue and Richard Pazderski, petitioned the court for a new investigation.
“I would like to see Vanecko brought up on charges,” Sue Pazderski said in a recent NBC5 interview. “I guess it’s involuntary manslaughter. Or something like that. That any other person would be normal, would have to go through. And to face a judge or face something. “
Vanecko, the nephew of former mayor Richard M. Daley and former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, fled the scene after the punch was thrown.
A police line-up 25 days after the incident proved inconclusive, according to both police and prosecutors and no charge was ever filed.
Vanecko was never questioned by police. His attorney, Terence Gillespie, has said his client did nothing wrong that night and that no political clout came into play in the investigation.
Koschman’s family disagrees but Sue Pazderski says jail time for Vanecko is not what they are seeking.
“Naw, it’s, it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t solve anything. After all these years, him going to jail,” Sue Pazderski said.
“You just want to know really what went on. And that’s what I’ve always said, we just weren’t told,” said Richie Pazderski.
Bond was set at $100,000. Gillespe said Vanecko is in California and had not posted bond as of 2:30 p.m. He said he doesn't expect Vanecko to be in Chicago until his arraignment on Dec. 10.
The attorney representing the Koschmans, Locke Bowman, appears to be looking for this case to have a big impact.
"There is no celebration, no vengeance," Bowman said at a press conference with the Koschmans following the announcement. "But why on earth are we standing here so long after? Did this delay have anything to do with the identity of the defendant and his politically powerful family?"
The release from special prosecutor Dan Webb's firm of Winston and Strawn leaves no mystery as to the next steps in the investigation.
"While the Grand Jury investigation into the circumstances of Mr.Koschman's death has concluded, the Grand Jury inquiry of how the authorities handled their investigation into Mr. Koschman's death continues at a vigorous pace."