(AP) — The nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was indicted Monday for involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of a 21-year-old man outside a Chicago bar, and a grand jury is continuing its inquiry into whether authorities covered up or impeded an investigation of a relative of the city’s most powerful man.
Richard Vanecko, 38, was indicted by a Cook County special grand jury in the death of David Koschman of Mount Prospect. Koschman died days after he fell and struck his head during a fight with Vanecko outside a bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.
The indictment states that Vanecko “through the use of physical force and without lawful justification, recklessly performed acts which were likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another, and such acts caused the death of David Koschman.”
On Monday afternoon, Koschman’s mother held an emotional news conference in which she talked about sitting by her son’s bed for nearly two weeks before taking him off life support.
“I’m going to go tell David tomorrow that he can be in peace,” said Nanci Koschman, who added that she hopes the indictment and investigation will clear her son’s name.
“When that detective came in and said it’s all your son’s fault, it’s all his responsibility, that’s like a knife through a mothers’ heart,” she said.
Both she and her attorneys said they are hopeful the investigation will answer what role Vanecko’s relationship to the mayor played in the investigation. Koschman’s family argued earlier this year that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office has political ties to Daley and is not fit to handle the case.
Koschman’s family also has contended there was a police cover-up, and because of that, asked for a special prosecutor.
Koschman had special praise for the Chicago Sun-Times, which she said helped spur the investigation with a series of articles that raised questions about the handling of the initial investigation.
The judge who appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as the special prosecutor agreed in April that there was evidence to support allegations of police misconduct in the initial investigation, including ignoring or falsely recording witness statements and labeling the victim as the aggressor.
In public statements, prosecutors and police portrayed Vanecko as acting in self-defense despite never having interviewed or spoken to him, the judge said when he ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor.
On Monday, a message left for Vanecko’s attorney was not immediately returned and a man answering a phone number listed to Vanecko hung up.
In a statement, Webb said that the grand jury’s investigation into whether the Chicago Police Department and the county’s state attorney’s office “acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence, furnish false evidence and generally impede the investigation” is continuing “at a vigorous pace.”
Webb’s statement did not hint at what, if any, conclusions have been reached, only that “thousands of documents have been reviewed and more than fifty witnesses have been interviewed.” The release also included that Koschman was 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds, while Vanecko, then 29, was 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds.
A message left at the office of Dick Devine, who was state’s attorney at the time of Koschman’s death, was not immediately returned. But the current state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, defended her office’s handling of the case.
Alvarez told the Sun-Times that her office’s investigation only ended earlier this year when a special prosecutor was appointed.
“We were not done and then the order for the special prosecutor came out, and that ended my investigation,” she told the newspaper.
On Monday, Nanci Koschman said after the fight, she was told by a police detective that she would be “impressed” by who Vanecko was related to and that if she sued, his family had the wherewithal to tie the case up in court “for years.”
She also said she does not want to see Vanecko sent to jail, explaining that she doesn’t think he “went out that night” intending to hurt her son. Still, she said, an apology from “would be nice,” though she added that she does not expect that to happen.
Vanecko will be arraigned later this month, and bond has been set at $100,000.