Trial Date Set For Daley Nephew in Koschman Case

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew will face an involuntary manslaughter trial in February in the death of David Koschman.

Judge Maureen McIntyre on Tuesday set Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko's trial date for Feb. 18. The date comes the same week special prosecutor Dan Webb released his report on the case and determined there would be no new indictments.

Vanecko pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of Koschman, a 21-year-old man from Mt. Prospect who died from brain injuries after a single punch.

Prosecutors say Koschman died 11 days after Vanecko punched him in a fight on Chicago's Division Street in April 2004. An investigation led to Vanecko's indictment nearly nine years later.

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.

Until late last year, any criminal legal action against Vanecko has been nearly non-existent from the police and the state's attorney's office. That raised serious questions about whether Vanecko, the grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, received special treatment.

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. The seal was placed pending Vanecko's trial.

"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."

When charges came down, Koschman's mother, Nanci, said she feels no need for revenge against Vanecko but said the Monday charge brings peace to her and her family.

"I wanted it on record that this man hit my son for no reason," she said.

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