Special Prosecutor Needed for Koschman Case: Watchdogs

More than seven years after 21-year old David Koschman of Mount Prospect was killed during a fight on Division Street, the MacArthur Justice Center is asking that a Special Prosecutor be named to probe whether or not political favoritism played a role in the original investigation.

A petition was filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court and signed by Northwestern University law professor Locke Bowman.  The Better Government Association is also joining in the call for a Special Prosecutor.

"This Petition is being filed because of Petitioners' concern that the investigation of David Koschman's death was influenced by R.J. Vanecko's membership in the most powerful political family in Cook County. Petitioners believe that had Vanecko not been a member of the powerful Daley family he would have been charged with the homicide. The handling of this matter by the Chicago Police and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office raises questions that cry out for objective, unbiased investigation."


Koschman died as a result of a single punch thrown in the early morning hours of April 25, 2004 by R.J. Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley.  Chicago police concluded earlier this year that Vanecko threw the punch but acted in self-defense.
In the early morning hours of April 25, 2004, Koschman and four friends, out to celebrate his 21st birthday, got into argument with Vanecko and three others.
According to police reports, both groups had been drinking heavily, there was a bump and words were exchanged, followed by the single punch.

For seven years the case remained dormant until questions were raised by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Among the findings by the Sun-Times: that critical police investigative files were missing.

And NBC Chicago and the Sun-Times reported in February all investigative files in the Koschman case were missing from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

As a result of questions first raised by the Sun-Times, the Chicago Police Department re-investigated the case.
Police now believe R.J. Vanecko, then 29 and 6-foot 3 inches tall weighing 230 pounds, struck Koschman, 5-foot 5 and 140 pounds causing him to hit his head on the curb.

He died 11 days later due to severe brain damage.
“I held my son in my arms until his heart stopped,” said Nanci Koschman in a February interview. She made the decision to pull life support from her only son. “I’m a woman from Mount Prospect who lost everything that night,” she said.

The Medical examiner ruled David Koschman’s death a homicide.   
Twenty-five days after the punch was thrown, police conducted a lineup, including one with R.J. Vanecko, but no positive ID was made.
Nanci Koschman said in February from the outset neither police nor the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office seemed inclined to pursue charges.
“You’d be really impressed by the names of the people involved in this,” she says a police officer told her at the time. “He more or less said well we gave it to the State’s Attorney and they said there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Police and the State’s Attorney’s office have concluded that Koschman was the aggressor and Vanecko was defending himself.
In an interview earlier this year, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said favoritism played no role in the investigation.

“It doesn't matter who you are. If the facts are there and we can prove a case, we will bring it forward,” Alvarez said in a March interview.
Now comes a call for an independent prosecutor to probe what happened, not only on the night of April 25th 2004, but in the intervening years in a case that was only closed March first even as questions linger.

“Nobody’s ever said they are sorry, that they killed my son,” said Nanci Koschman.

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