Eight years ago, a drunken brawl led to the death of 21-year-old David Koschman. His group of friends ran into Richard J. Vanecko’s group, Koschman bumped into one of Vanecko’s friends, and moments later, Vanecko punched Koschman, causing him to fall backwards and crack his skull on the pavement. Earlier this week, Vanecko was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
How does it take eight years to bring charges in such a simple case? Vanecko is the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and grandson of late former Mayor Richard J. Daley. That connection is what supposedly led to an alleged cover-up that allowed Vanecko to go uncharged for eight years, reports the Sun-Times.
The handling of the investigation certainly sounds suspicious. Police officers and prosecutors claimed that the act was self-defense and that charges weren't warranted. Statements were attributed to witnesses that were allegedly falsified. Crucial details were left out of police reports. If it wasn't for nosy reporters at the Sun-Times and the persistent mother of the victim, Vanecko's deed, and the subsequent alleged cover-up, might have gone unpunished.
Earlier this year, a special independent prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb, was appointed to investigate the matter after the judge called the self-defense argument "fiction ... conjured up by police and prosecutors" and stated "he's identified as the killer ... this is not a whodunit." Webb was instructed to investigate charges against both Vanecko and his protectors.
While only Vaneco has been charged so far, the grand jury is still investigating the police and the prosecutor's office. Though their proceedings are sealed and kept completely secret, we can surmise if anyone in law enforcement or the state's attorney's office is charged, they will be charged with obstruction of justice.
Obstruction occurs when a person tries to prevent the prosecution or defense of a person by destroying, altering, concealing, or disguising physical evidence, planting false evidence, furnishing false evidence, by inducing a witness to leave the state or conceal themselves, or by withholding information regarding the crime. Because this charge is a class 4 felony, any law enforcement officer or prosecutor convicted will likely not only face jail time, but also will barred from the practice of their current profession.
The Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez told the Sun-Times that her office did nothing wrong. In fact, she had already empanelled a grand jury to investigate the Vanecko case. Because of the private nature of grand juries, she was unable to disclose this fact earlier. When the court appointed an independent investigator, and Mr. Webb empanelled his own grand jury, her investigation was terminated.