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Special Prosecutor To Complete Koschman Probe Pro Bono

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Going forward, Cook County taxpayers won't have to pay for work of a special prosecutor investigating why Chicago Police and Cook County prosecutors did not charge a nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley in the death of David Koschman.

WBBM Newsradio's Nancy Harty reports special prosecutor Dan Webb already has billed the county more than $800,000 for work that led to Richard "R.J." Vanecko's indictment on a charge of involuntary manslaughter last month, more than eight years after Koschman's death.

Webb has said he is still investigating why police and prosecutors did not charge Vanecko in 2004, but the former U.S. Attorney has informed the county any work his law firm performs after Jan. 1 will be pro bono, according to a statement from the Cook County Chief Judge.

Judge Timothy Evans said Webb will not bill the county for any further attorney's fees, and any future bills from Webb and his firm will be for reimbursement of reasonable expenses only.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko is accused of striking the 5-foot-5, 125-pound Koschman during a drunken encounter on Division west of Dearborn around 3:15 a.m. on April 25, 2004.

Koschman, 21, fell to the ground, and his head struck the pavement. He died 11 days later.

Vanecko, then 29, fled the scene. Police never questioned him, and concluded he was acting in self-defense, even though four of Koschman's friends and a bystander said Koschman was not acting aggressively toward Koschman and his three companions.

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.

In April, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb as a special prosecutor to re-investigate the case, and criticized how police and Cook County prosecutors had handled it.

"The system has failed David Koschman up to this point," the judge said. "There is an appearance of impropriety."

"When you have a dead body, someone's going to jail," he continued. "Not in this case. This is a fiction of self-defense."

Webb could pursue sanctions against police or the state's attorney's office if it is determined misconduct took place.

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