Judge to hear arguments on report
Published Oct. 11, 2013
By Stefano Esposito
A Cook County judge said Friday he wants to hear from key parties in the David Koschman case before deciding whether to unseal the report of a special prosecutor he appointed to reinvestigate the 2004 case in which a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley now stands charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin set a hearing for Thursday on motions filed by the Chicago Sun-Times and WMAQ-Ch. 5 to make special prosecutor Dan K. Webb’s report public.
That will give attorneys for Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko and Koschman’s mother Nanci Koschman a chance to have their say, Toomin said.
The news organizations argued in court papers filed Thursday that the 162-page report shouldn’t have been sealed without a hearing and that the public has a right to see court, particularly to see a special prosecutor’s findings “in high-profile, politically charged cases.”
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Vanecko, indicted Dec. 3, faces trial Feb. 18.
Webb spent 17 months looking into the 2004 death of the 21-year-old from Mount Prospect and the handling of the case by the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which declined to charge Daley’s nephew.
Koschman fell and hit his head after being punched in a drunken confrontation with Vanecko on Division Street near Dearborn on April 25, 2004, according to police reports.
His death remained classified as an unsolved homicide until a Sun-Times request to see case files in early 2011 prompted then-police Supt. Jody Weis to order a new look at the case.
The police then closed the case without seeking charges, finding that Vanecko threw the punch but did so in self-defense — a conclusion some witnesses disputed. Vanecko wouldn’t speak with detectives.
At Nanci Koschman’s request, Toomin appointed the special prosecutor, citing what he called “the fiction of self-defense . . . conjured up by police and prosecutors.”
Webb finished his investigation last month without charging police or prosecutors. Toomin sealed his report. Webb said that was necessary to help ensure Vanecko gets a fair trial.
— Emergency Motion of Sun-Times Media, LLC and NBC Subsidiary (WMAQ-TV) LLC to Intervene with Respect to Sealing of Records
— Notice of Emergency Motion to Intervene
— Memo in Support of Motion to Intervene