Trial to begin in one-punch death outside Palatine bar

Posted6/1/2015 5:30 AM
  • Michael Platt

    Michael Platt

  • Ryan Flannigan, from left, with his sister Courtney, mother Debra, sister Carly and father Timothy.

    Ryan Flannigan, from left, with his sister Courtney, mother Debra, sister Carly and father Timothy. Courtesy of the Flannigan family

  • Ryan Flannigan with sisters Courtney, left, and Carly

    Ryan Flannigan with sisters Courtney, left, and Carly Courtesy of the Flannigan family

  • Ryan Flannigan, right, with his family: father Timothy, mother Debra, second from left; sister Carly, left, and sister Courtney.

    Ryan Flannigan, right, with his family: father Timothy, mother Debra, second from left; sister Carly, left, and sister Courtney. Courtesy of the Flannigan family

Nearly a year after Palatine resident Ryan Flannigan died from injuries he suffered when he was punched outside a suburban bar, the trial of the man police say threw the fatal blow is getting underway in Rolling Meadows.

The trial of Michael G. Platt, 36, of Palatine, begins despite the objections of defense attorney Sam Amirante, who sought a change of venue citing widespread media coverage he argued made it impossible to select 12 impartial jurors.

Cook County Judge Thomas Fecarotta denied Amirante's motion and set jury selection for today.

The case echoes another high-profile Cook County case. Richard Vanecko, nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of 21-year-old Mount Prospect resident David Koschman, who fell and struck his head after being punched outside a Chicago bar. Platt initially was charged with aggravated battery after what police called "a senseless act of violence" following an argument between two groups the night of July 18, 2014, outside Pop's Bar in Palatine.

In what authorities called an unprovoked attack, Platt stepped away from his group and punched 26-year-old Ryan Flannigan once in the side of the head, causing him to fall and strike his head on the ground, police said. Flannigan, a Western Illinois University graduate who worked as branch manager for ABC Supply Co., died from his injuries 10 days later without regaining consciousness.

Courtney Flannigan, who was with her brother that night, said he was a peacemaker who was attempting to defuse the situation.

After Flannigan died, Platt was charged with first-degree murder and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. Platt, whose criminal background includes a 2009 conviction for possession of a controlled substance in conjunction with DUI, is free on $2 million bail.

A defense motion that's part of the court file indicates a group of people that included Flannigan had been approached earlier by Palatine police for disorderly conduct. Two other members of the group "engaged in disorderly conduct and fighting inside the establishment and were removed," the defense motion alleges.

Citing the upcoming trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to comment on the case.

The Flannigan family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Platt and Trazom Inc., the corporation that owns the bar, seeking at least $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit alleges employees served alcohol to an intoxicated Platt that night and failed to properly protect its patrons, specifically Ryan Flannigan.

Flannigan family members believe their tragedy would have been avoided had Pop's owners and employees acted more responsibly, said Tim Cavanagh, the attorney in the civil case.

Platt's case invites comparisons to that of Vanecko, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in January 2014 for punching Koschman after an argument outside a Chicago bar April 25, 2004. Koschman fell, struck his head on the pavement and died from his injuries 11 days later. Vanecko and a friend left in a cab, according to testimony.

Vanecko wasn't charged initially, and Koschman attorneys claimed he received special treatment from police and prosecutors because of his family ties.

For years, Nanci Koschman of Mount Prospect fought for answers about what happened to her son that night. In 2012, a Cook County judge appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as a special prosecutor in the case, resulting in charges against Vanecko.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Vanecko was sentenced to 60 days in jail, followed by 60 days of home confinement and 30 months' probation. He was also ordered to pay the Koschman family $20,000.

Webb's investigation did not result in charges against police officers or prosecutors. Webb found that neither Daley, his family, nor his staff influenced or tried to influence the investigation.

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