Key dates in the David Koschman case
April 24, 2004 — David Koschman — a 21-year-old part-time college student from Mount Prospect — goes bar-hopping on Rush Street with four friends from high school.
April 25, 2004, 3:15 a.m. — Koschman and his friends leave Bar Chicago, 9 W. Division St., and are walking on Division west of Dearborn when they bump into a group that includes Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, the 29-year-old nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Koschman gets into an argument and is hit in the face. He falls and hits his head on the pavement. Vanecko and one of the people he’s with run off.
May 6, 2004 — Koschman dies at Northwestern Memorial Hospital of brain injuries without ever regaining consciousness.
THE INITIAL INVESTIGATION
May 10, 2004 — The Cook County medical examiner’s office rules the death a homicide. The police upgrade the case from battery to first-degree murder.
May 13, 2004 — Bridget Higgins McCarthy tells detectives she and her husband were with Vanecko on April 25 — the police say they didn’t have his name till now.
May 20, 2004 — Vanecko appears in a police lineup, but Koschman’s four friends and two bystanders aren’t able to identify him, according to the police.
May 22, 2004 — Vanecko is identified in news reports as having been involved in the altercation that led to Koschman’s death.
May 26, 2004 — Police Supt. Phil Cline says, “At this time, there’s no basis for criminal charges.”
A SECOND POLICE INVESTIGATION
Jan. 4, 2011 — The Chicago Sun-Times submits a request for police reports on Koschman’s death.
Jan. 14, 2011 — Police Supt. Jody Weis orders a review of what’s now classified a “homicide, second-degree murder.”
Feb. 28, 2011 — The Sun-Times publishes part 1 of a two-day series on the case — the first of dozens of stories to question the handling of the case. It quotes a spokeswoman saying prosecutors declined to charge anyone in 2004 because “all witnesses who were questioned indicated that Koschman was the aggressor and had initiated the physical confrontation.” One of the bystanders responds, calling that a “flat-out lie” and saying Koschman wasn’t physically aggressive.
Feb. 28, 2011, 3:17 p.m. — The lead detective submits his report, concluding Vanecko punched Koschman in self-defense.
March 1, 2011 — The police close the case.
Dec. 14, 2011 — Koschman’s mother, Nanci Koschman, files a petition in Cook County criminal court seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor and asserting, “Had Vanecko not been a member of the powerful Daley family, he would have been charged.”
April 6, 2012 — Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin agrees to appoint a special prosecutor. He declares “the system has failed” David Koschman, criticizes “the fiction of self-defense” he says was “conjured up by police and prosecutors” and questions why Vanecko wasn’t charged.
April 23, 2012 — Toomin appoints former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb as special prosecutor, telling him to “investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against any person in connection with the homicide of David Koschman … and whether … employees of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence, furnish false evidence and generally impede the investigation.”
Dec. 3, 2012 — A grand jury overseen by Webb returns an indictment charging Vanecko with involuntary manslaughter but continues to investigate.