Mount Prospect resident Nanci Koschman wants answers.
Koschman's 21-year-old son, David, died seven years ago after being punched in a fight outside a bar in Chicago. This week, in the wake of two police investigations that ended with no charges filed, Koschman has asked Cook County's chief criminal courts judge to appoint a special prosecutor to review the case.
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"I'm not out to get anybody. I'm not out for money," Koschman said Thursday during a phone interview from her home. "I just want to know that my son's death was investigated properly. I would like some answers about how and why this has gotten to this point."
The petition Koschman filed with Chief Cook County Criminal Courts Judge Paul P. Biebel alleges that the investigations of her son's death were compromised by the political connections of Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, the man Chicago police said threw the punch. Vanecko is the nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
"Had Vanecko not been a member of the powerful Daley family, he would have been charged with the homicide," the petition states.
The petition also calls for a review of the investigations conducted by the Chicago police and the Cook County state's attorney's office, investigations that might have been sabotaged by authorities' efforts to cover up or falsify evidence, the filing states.
"I assumed at first that of course, this would be investigated fairly," Koschman said. "I no longer believe that."
A spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Thursday that her office continues to review the petition "on a factual and legal basis," and that a full response will be made in court. The spokeswoman declined to offer any further comment.
The Better Government Association, a nonprofit watchdog group, plans to file a brief in support of the request for a special prosecutor.
The BGA will not take a position on the specific factual allegations in Koschman's petition.
David Koschman, a Harper College student who worked at a Buffalo Grove insurance firm, spent the night of April 24, 2004, with friends in the city. He planned to stay overnight and attend the Cubs game the following day.
But in the early hours of April 25, Koschman got into an altercation with another group outside a bar near Division and Dearborn streets. He was punched and fell to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement. He died two weeks later from complications related to blunt head trauma.
The initial investigation resulted in no charges being filed. Earlier this year, prompted by growing media scrutiny, authorities reopened the case, but again closed it without filing charges.
Koschman's petition was filed on behalf of her; her sister, Susan Pazderski; and her brother-in-law, Richard Pazderski, by attorneys Locke E. Bowman and Alexa Van Brunt of Northwestern University Law School's Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, along with G. Flint Taylor of the People's Law Office.
The attorneys will formally present the petition during a hearing in front of Judge Biebel at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, 26th and California, Chicago.