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updated: 9/20/2013 7:49 AM

No further charges in Koschman case, special prosecutor announces

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  • David Koschman

      David Koschman

  • Richard J. Vanecko

      Richard J. Vanecko

  • JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com Richard Vanecko, right, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman of Mount Prospect, leaves the Rolling Meadows Courthouse after a hearing earlier this year. A special prosecutor announced Thursday there will be no further charges in the case.

      JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com Richard Vanecko, right, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman of Mount Prospect, leaves the Rolling Meadows Courthouse after a hearing earlier this year. A special prosecutor announced Thursday there will be no further charges in the case.

 
 

No police or prosecutors will face charges for their roles in the investigation into the death of a Mount Prospect man who died following a 2004 altercation with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew, Cook County Special Prosecutor Dan Webb announced Thursday.

Webb's 162-page report detailing his probe of David Koschman's death and the subsequent investigation has been temporarily placed under seal on the order of Cook County Judge Michael P. Toomin.

Attorneys for Koschman's mother, Nanci, said Thursday afternoon, she is not disappointed by the outcome of the special prosecutor's investigation, but is disappointed by the implication that something went very wrong with the initial 2004 investigation into her son's death.

"We need to know why it was this investigation was derailed," said Koschman attorney Locke Bowman, a clinical professor of law at Northwestern University. "Who was called and when?"

Toomin appointed Webb as special prosecutor in April 2012 to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought in connection with Koschman's death and "whether, from 2004 to the present, employees of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state's attorney's office acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence, furnish false evidence, and generally impede the investigation into Mr. Koschman's death."

Webb's appointment came after allegations surfaced that political influence had played a part in the initial decision not to charge anyone.

In December, eight months after Webb's probe began, Daley nephew Richard J. Vanecko, 39, was indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The charge alleges he "recklessly performed acts" that caused the death of the 21-year-old Koschman during an April 25, 2004, altercation outside a Rush Street bar.

According to a statement Webb made in December, Vanecko, who stood 6 feet, 3 inches and 230 pounds, knocked the 5-foot-5, 125-pound Koschman to the ground during the early morning confrontation, causing the Mount Prospect man to hit his head on the pavement. Koschman died of his injuries 11 days later.

Vanecko, who lives in California, has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is awaiting a trial expected to begin early next year.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Webb outlines three reasons why charges will not be pursued against any Chicago police officers or Cook County prosecutors.

First, he states, any potential indictment of police or prosecutors is barred under a three-year statute of limitations. Second, according to the statement, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any violations of Illinois criminal law as to actions taken by police personnel.

"(Thirdly) there is no evidence of any kind suggesting any violations of Illinois criminal law as to actions taken by (state's attorney's office) personnel in connection with its participation in the Koschman investigation in 2011 and 2012," Webb's statement reads.

The special grand jury empaneled as part of special prosecutor's probe has been discharged, Webb said Thursday.

While no further indictments came down, the report does "bring transparency to the mixed signals emanating from this troubling case," according to Webb's statement.

Bowman said a case like this raises the question of whether there should be any statute of limitations for crimes of official misconduct.

Among the other key questions remaining is why was there a note in the original case materials identifying Vanecko as a Daley relative and what effect that had on the investigation, he added.

Nanci Koschman is willing to respect the seal on Webb's report to ensure a fair trial for Vanecko, Bowman said. But as soon as there is either a guilty plea or a jury's verdict all the information should be made public, he added.

"Nanci Koschman has been exhausted by this whole process," Bowman said. "First and foremost, she's a mother who's lost her son. Here we are, all these years later, still talking about that death. More than anything else, Nanci Koschman wants to see justice done for her son and her family."

Bowman said that when the report is released, it is hoped that anyone responsible for any type of cover-up can be held accountable, even if criminal prosecution is prohibited by the statute of limitations.

He also advocated changes in the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state's attorney's office to ensure such questions need never be raised again.

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