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A tearful Nanci Koschman, Davids mom, talks to reporters Friday.











Nanci Koschman wipes away tears while addressing reporters Friday. Happy and sad, she said after the hearing. Its a lot of emotions. | JOHN J. KIM~SUN-TIMES

Judge appoints special prosecutor

Staff Reporters

David Koschman

Richard J. R.J. Vanecko

Declaring the system has failed David Koschman, a Cook County judge took the rare step Friday of appointing a special prosecutor to re-examine the 2004 case of the 21-year-old from Mount Prospect who died as the result of being punched in the face by Richard J. R.J. Vanecko, a nephew of thenMayor Richard M. Daley. Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin said it would be an injustice not to bring in an outside

prosecutor to review the politically charged case including the way it was handled by the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County States Attorneys office. The judge had harsh words for police and prosecutors. He singled out their assertion that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko, who was never charged, acted in self-defense when he hit the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman, who never threw a punch. This was a defense conjured up by police and prosecutors, Toomin said, noting that Vanecko never spoke with police and calling it the fiction of self-defense. Toomin who choked up at one point said police reports apparently were fabricated to portray Koschman as the aggressor in the

drunken confrontation, contrary to sworn statements witnesses gave last year during a reinvestigation of the case by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, prompted by the Sun-Times reports. Toomin said he will consult with Chief Cook County Criminal Courts Judge Paul Biebel and Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy Evans before choosing a special prosecutor. Koschmans mother, Nanci Koschman, sat in the front row of the courtroom, crying at times, as Toomin went through his findings, not revealing his ruling until about a half hour after he began. Happy and sad. Its a lot of emotions, Koschman said afterward. Her attorneys, Locke E. Bowman




Alvarez: I wont appeal

attack by reporters Though Cook County who have tried to advoStates Attorney Anita Alvarez said she wont ap- cate and influence the decision without regards peal a judges ruling Frito the law, said day to appoint an Alvarez, who has outside prosecutor been critical of to re-examine the Chicago SunDavid Koschman Times reporting case, she defended on the case. her handling of the I will not be case and her bullied into any failed effort against Anita decision on any bringing in a speAlvarez case that is not cial prosecutor. supported by I think the the law and admissible citizens of Cook County would agree that it would evidence. Alvarez pledged her have been inappropricomplete cooperation ate for me to run away whenever a special prosfrom my responsibilities ecutor is named. because I found myself Chris Fusco, Tim Novak under attack an unjust and G. Flint Taylor, asked for a special prosecutor in December in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation of the case that began early last year. Its been a long 14 months, Koschman said, and Im just very happy the judge listened to everything we had to say. I hope I finally get some justice for David. Ill go see him at the cemetery this afternoon and tell him that we won one step. Now, well go to the next step. States Attorney Anita Alvarez has said her staff has cooperated with Fergusons investigation. Toomin said Alvarez should no longer take part, citing an institutional conflict of interest. Assistant States Attorney Darren W. OBrien, still on Alvarezs staff, decided in 2004 that the police didnt have enough evidence to charge Vanecko. The judge said police and prosecutors both suffered from missing files syndrome, noting that the states attorneys office couldnt find any of its files on the case and that some police files surfaced only last summer. Alvarez who had fought the appointment of a special prosecutor said she would not appeal Fridays ruling. Vaneckos lawyer, Marc Martin, declined to comment as he left court. Koschman died May 6, 2004, 11 days after the confrontation with Vanecko on Division Street near Dearborn Street. In his 33-page, written ruling, Toomin repeatedly cited the Sun-Times investigation, including a story that reported one of the missing police files that turned up last summer included the handwritten notation: V DAILEY SISTER SON. Toomin said he has presided over 641 murder cases in his career and that the Koschman investigation was like no other. It wasnt until last year that the police even identified Vanecko as Koschmans assailant, though Vanecko still wasnt charged. Hes identified as the killer make no mistake about it, Toomin said. This is not a whodunnit. In this building, when you have a dead body, someones going to jail. Not in this case.


Staff Reporters

MORE ONLINE: Listen to statements from Nanci Koschman and Anita Alvarez and read the judges ruling at

David Koschman died in 2004, but his death as the result of being punched by a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley has been back in the news since the publication in February 2011 of the first of a series of reports in a Chicago Sun-Times investigation. Those reports prompted Koschmans family to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor to re-examine the circumstances of his violent death and to investigate the way the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County states attorneys office handled the case. Here are some key dates in the newspapers investigation and actions that resulted from those reports: Jan. 18, 2011 The Chicago Police Department denies a Sun-Times request to review the police reports on the nearly 7-year-old case, citing an ongoing criminal investigation. Then-police Supt. Jody Weis would later explain that, although a previous police superintendent had called the case closed in 2004, it was never formally closed, and the request prompted him to have a new set of detectives reinvestigate Koschmans death. Feb. 28, 2011 The paper reports that Koschman had gotten into a drunken confrontation on Division Street near Dearborn Street in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004, with a group that included Daley nephew Richard J. R.J. Vanecko and was punched in the face and fell and hit his head on the sidewalk. He would die 11 days later from the resulting brain injuries. Vanecko and a friend ran away before the police arrived. The police would conclude that Koschman was punched in self-defense and that he was the aggressor that night, though friends who were with the 21-year-old Mount Prospect

man that night dispute that. The states attorneys office had a top prosecutor meet face-to-face with witnesses and detectives about the case on May 20, 2004 but now cant locate any records of its involvement. March 1, 2011 The police close their reinvestigation of the Koschman case without seeking criminal charges or consulting with prosecutors but publicly identify Vanecko for the first time as the man who punched Koschman. Detectives again conclude that Vanecko who was 29 at the time, stood 6-feet-3, weighed 230 pounds and was a former college football player acted in self-defense when

he hit the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman. They dont interview Vanecko but cite interviews with others. March 3, 2011 Michael Connolly a bystander whom authorities had described as one of two unbiased witnesses to the deadly confrontation disputes the conclusion that Koschman had been physically aggressive and says in an interview that, despite what the police say, he never told them that. March 14, 2011 The newspaper reports that, within hours of being called to the scene, the police halted their initial investigation and didnt resume investigating until 15 days later. By that time, Koschman had been

dead for four days. March 24, 2011 Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez who was third in command of the prosecutors office in 2004 asks the Illinois State Police to review the police handling of the case to ensure that we reach the truth. March 30, 2011 The newspaper reports that Joseph Ferguson the city of Chicagos inspector general is investigating the police handling of the Koschman case. That investigation remains open. April 4, 2011 After first agreeing to Alvarezs request, the state police say they wont investigate. Interim Illinois State Police director Patrick Keen tells Alvarez the case should be examined instead by a law-enforcement agency that unlike his could convene a grand jury. On the same day the state agency had agreed to review the case, Gov. Pat Quinn announced he was appointing Hiram Grau as its new director as of April 11. Grau formerly was Alvarezs chief deputy in the states attorneys office and was a deputy superintendent in charge of the Chicago Police Departments detectives at the time of Koschmans death. Sept. 12, 2011 According to a police report from 2004 which had never been made public and which the police now say they only recently discovered a witness told detectives Vanecko had been acting in a very aggressive manner toward Koschman in the moments before the punch. Dec. 14, 2011 Nanci Koschman David Koschmans mother files court papers with her sister and brother-in-law asking Chief Cook County Criminal Courts Judge Paul Biebel to appoint a special prosecutor, a request that Biebel, citing his own health problems, puts in the hands of Judge Michael Toomin.