Judge rejects Vanecko bid to toss case
Published Jan. 9, 2014
By CHRIS FUSCO AND TIM NOVAK
A judge refused Thursday to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter case against Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley accused in the 2004 death of David Koschman.
McHenry County Circuit Judge Maureen P. McIntyre rejected all three arguments Vanecko’s lawyers made to throw out the charge, apparently clearing the way for Daley’s nephew’s scheduled Feb. 18 trial.
Vanecko attorneys Terence Gillespie, Thomas Breen and Marc Martin had urged McIntyre to dismiss the criminal case, arguing that the courts overstepped their authority by appointing a special prosecutor who won the indictment against Vanecko in December 2012, after the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office twice had declined to file charges.
McIntyre said that argument belongs before the state appellate court.
Vanecko’s lawyers also argued that it was improper for the special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb, to have the grand jury that indicted Vanecko meet, with a judge’s permission, at Webb’s Winston & Strawn law offices, rather than at the Cook County criminal courts building. They argued that might taint the grand jury’s impartiality.
They also argued that the grand jury was “not getting a fair picture” before it charged the Daley nephew.
The judge rejected those arguments, finding that the grand jury was not misled and that there was “no undue pressure or coercion” placed on grand jurors.
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Earlier, in court filings, Vanecko’s lawyers argued that the authority to decide whether to bring charges should have been left to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. They said Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin overstepped his authority by appointing the special prosecutor to reinvestigate the Koschman’s death, as well as to review the actions of police and prosecutors.
In September, Webb ended his investigation, deciding not to indict anyone other than Vanecko. His report on his investigation has been sealed until Vanecko’s trial is over.
McIntyre was appointed to the case after the Illinois Supreme Court decided it should be heard by a judge from outside Cook County. That happened after a Cook County judge selected to hear the case stepped aside. The judge had worked as a prosecutor when Daley was state’s attorney.
Daley’s nephew is accused of punching Koschman, causing the 21-year-old Mount Prospect man to hit his head on the ground, during a drunken confrontation early on April 25, 2004, at Division and Dearborn. Koschman suffered brain injuries and died after being hospitalized for 11 days.
The case remained an unsolved homicide until a Chicago Sun-Times invesigation that began in early 2011 led to the appointment of the special prosecutor and Vanecko’s indictment.
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