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Alvarez Declines to Charge Daley Nephew in Killing

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 21, 2011 3:00PM

Richard "R.J." Vanecko (Image captured via NBC Chicago video)
An editorial in today's Sun-Times is calling for an independent investigation into the death of David Koschman. Koschman died in 2004 from injuries sustained by a single punch after getting into an altercation with a group of Division Street revelers that included Richard "R.J." Vanecko, a nephew of Mayor Daley. Charges were never brought up in the case, even though the county medical examiner declared Koschman's death a homicide. After the Sun-times started looking into the case, a reinvestigation by Chicago Police seemed to indicate that Vanecko threw the punch that killed Koschman, but they closed the case "exceptionally."

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez released a statement saying that charges would not be brought up against Vanecko. Alvarez cited the Police Department's conclusion that Vanecko threw the punch in self-defense and the conflicting testimony of five of the nine eyewitnesses in the case, who said Koschman was not the aggressor and never police otherwise.

Vanecko has a history with the law going back to a 1992 brawl at Daley's Michigan summer home (that also involved Daley's son Patrick) in which a young man was beaten with a baseball bat. Vanecko was carrying a shotgun in that incident and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges stemming from the incident.