CHICAGO (CBS) — Richard R.J. Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, pleaded guilty on Friday a single count of involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman, and apologized to Koschman’s mother in court.
“I felt terrible about this since the moment I heard David was injured,” Vanecko said after agreeing to a guilty plea that will send him to jail for 60 days, followed by 60 days of home confinement and electronic monitoring, and 30 months of probation.
He also must pay $20,000 restitution to the Koschman family.
Early on the morning of April 25, 2004, the 21-year-old Koschman had a confrontation with Vanecko outside a bar in the Rush and Division Street nightclub district. The quarrel allegedly prompted Vanecko to punch Koschman, who hit his head on the ground and died 12 days later.
As he pleaded guilty Friday, Vanecko said he was “shocked” when he heard Koschman had died from his injuries.
Nanci Koschman appeared visibly relieved as she talked with reporters outside court.
“It’s an end to 9 ½ years of thinking and worrying and wondering what happened,” she said.
“This is all I ever wanted. I only wanted for someone to say they were sorry for hurting my son. As I said in (court), he was the light in my eyes and he was the reason I got up every day.”
Investigators initially determined the 6’3″, 230 pound Vanecko punched the 5’5″, 140 pound Koschman in self-defense. Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb was named as a special prosecutor to re-investigate the case, after the Koschman family and others criticized the police handling of the case.
The Koschman family and other critics of the original investigation have said they believe police and prosecutors might have decided not to charge Vanecko because he is Daley’s nephew.
Those allegations were brought to light by an investigative series published in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Vanecko had been set to go on trial on Feb. 18. He could have faced two to five years in prison if convicted at trial.