UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

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Normal UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

Post by NiteSpinR on Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:47 pm

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November 3, 2011
Toddler Benjamin Kingan was already dead by the time his parents arrived at the hospital where the boy had been taken after losing consciousness at his day care center in Lincolnshire.
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"They let us pick him up, and we got to hold him and say goodbye," Amy Kingan said.

Kingan tearfully recounted her son's last day as the first witness Wednesday in the murder trial for Melissa Calusinski, the former assistant teacher at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 16-month-old Deerfield boy.

In their opening statements, Calusinski's defense attorneys sought to shift the focus from the emotions of the case to its facts, which they said don't provide a clear-cut cause for Benjamin's death or prove that Calusinski intentionally harmed the boy.

"This is a very sad case," said Dan Cummings, one of Calusinski's attorneys. "It is tragic, and everybody empathizes with the Kingan family, but that is not why we are here."

Cummings painted Calusinski, then 22, as a warm, family-oriented young woman who had cared for children since she was a young teen.

While she may have been experienced with children, she was not experienced with police, Cummings said. And though Calusinski confessed to intentionally slamming the boy's head to the ground out of frustration, her lawyers said the admission, which came after a 10-hour police interrogation two days after the boy's death Jan. 14, 2009, was coerced.

"This was not an interview. This was a situation where the police told her what they wanted her to say," Cummings said. "They deceived her. They browbeat her."

Cummings told jurors that while it might be hard for them to imagine admitting to something they hadn't done, he said Calusinski has a verbal IQ of 74 and got a 13 on the ACT.

But Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Christen Bishop told the jury that Calusinski admitted several times to throwing Benjamin to the ground in frustration.

"She called her dad and said: 'Daddy, it's all my fault. I threw him to the ground,'" Bishop said. "This is a case of fatal child abuse."

Bishop told the jurors that they would hear from a pathologist from the Lake County coroner's office that Benjamin's injury was consistent with being struck against a hard surface with enough force that it could not have been accidental.

Cummings countered that jurors will hear proof that there was pre-existing trauma to Benjamin's head that had gone undiagnosed and that he had a habit of "throwing himself back and hitting himself on the head" during tantrums.

Defense attorney Paul DeLuca asked Kingan under cross-examination if she ever saw Benjamin throw himself back during temper tantrums.

"He has, just as all my kids have," she said.

DeLuca also asked about a time in October 2008 when the staff at Minee Subee told her Benjamin had a lump on the lower back side of his head.

"(The doctor) said it did not sound like a skull fracture," Kingan said. "He did not lose consciousness, and there was no vomiting."

The trial is expected to resume Thursday.


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Last edited by NiteSpinR on Sat May 18, 2013 2:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

Post by raine1953 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:17 am

OMG! That poor baby!!
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Normal Re: UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

Post by HippyChick2 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:25 am

OMG, how sick. That poor baby and his parents.
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Normal Calusinski not in room when boy had tantrum, co-worker testifies at day care murder trial

Post by Nama on Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:52 am

A former day care center co-worker testified Friday that Melissa Calusinski was not in the room when the boy she’s accused of killing threw himself onto the floor in a tantrum, minutes before his death.

Nancy Kallinger, who worked with Calusinski at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire, testified that she saw Benjamin throw himself back from a sitting position twice on Jan. 14, 2009, both times while Calusinski was out of the room.

Calusinski, 25, is on trial on first-degree murder in the death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, of Deerfield. She’s been in jail since confessing to the crime to police days after the boy’s death, but her lawyers say the admission was coerced.

Kallinger described how she checked on Benjamin and then sat him on the tile day care center floor. “As I was turning to walk away I saw him throw himself backwards,” she said.

The co-worker said she then placed Benjamin in a bouncy chair, where he appeared to fall asleep. About 15 minutes later, when Kallinger returned to the classroom, two teachers were administering CPR on Benjamin, and Calusinski was crying.

“I put my arm around Melissa and I told her everything would be OK,” she said.

Kallinger and Calusinski were among four Minee Subee teachers who authorities picked up from the day care center and brought to separate police stations two days after Benjamin’s death. They were questioned by members of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.

After about 10 hours of questioning, Calusinski confessed to intentionally slamming the boy’s head to the ground out of frustration. She told police that Kallinger was doing the dishes with her back turned to Calusinski when the boy was injured.

During the interrogation, task force members suggested to Calusinski that the other toddlers were screaming and Benjamin was “acting up,” so she threw him to the floor. Calusinski, after earlier denying she hurt the child, then agreed with the police’s account.

Also taking the stand Friday was one of Benjamin’s pediatricians, Dr. Patricia Brunner, who said Benjamin did not show any signs of traumatic brain injury before his last office visit on Dec. 2, 2008.

“Ben was a healthy, baby toddler boy until his death,” she said.

Brunner, who practices at the pediatric associates of the North Shore, sees about 2,000 patients currently, she said.

“How many have hit their heads during a temper tantrum?” Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew DeMartini asked.

“At least 75 percent,” she responded.

Defense attorneys have suggested that Benjamin might have had a pre-existing injury because of his habit of throwing himself backwards and hitting his head during tantrums.

Brunner also said she saw no need to order a CT scan or other testing for a bump on the back of Benjamin’s head in October 2008, which she said could have been caused by something as simple as a bug bite.

A Lincolnshire investigator also testified Friday. Det. Adam Hyde was at Minee Subee the day Benjamin died, took Calusinski to what would be her second videotaped confession two days later and was the arresting officer.

Hyde testified that, when he say Calusinski on Jan. 16, she told him: “‘You are the one that I lied to the other night. I’m sorry, for lying,’ she said, ‘I want to tell you what happened.’”

Prosecutors then played a videotape of her second confession, which Calusinski gave to Hyde at the Lincolnshire Police Department.

“I took him out of the chair after snack. He was throwing a hissy fit because his hands got wet,” Calusinski said. “It got to the point where I got frustrated. I took it out on him and I shouldn’t have.”

Calusinski demonstrates in the video how she threw Benjamin down to the ground from about mid-waist, using a toy doll to represent the boy.

“I put him down like I shouldn’t have,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling good that much that day.”

Calusinski then told Hyde that Benjamin rolled over, grabbed a pacifier and a blanket and crawled to his bouncy chair, where she later found him unresponsive.

“I was like, Ben, Ben, wake up,” she said.

Several times during the tape, Hyde leaves the room and Calusinski can be seen crying and heard whispering to herself.

“My life is ruined,” she said during one break. “I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.”

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Normal A former teachers aide at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center testified Friday that the center's owner told her to lie to police following the death of a child at the facility

Post by Nama on Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:56 am

A former teachers aide at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center testified Friday that the center's owner told her to lie to police following the death of a child at the facility.

Nancy Kallinger also said she saw Benjamin Kingan throw himself backward and strike his head on the floor at least once on the day he died, and possibly more than once.

Kallinger, of Deerfield, testified on the third day of the first-degree murder trial of Melissa Calusinski in Lake County Circuit Court.

Two days after Benjamin's Jan. 14, 2009, death, Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, was recorded twice telling police she threw the 16-month-old toddler to the floor when she became upset with him and other children in the room.

The officer who took the second confession, Lincolnshire Det. Adam Hyde, has also testified he heard Calusinski tell her father during a phone call “Daddy, it's all my fault. I threw him to the ground with a full-strength throw.”

Kallinger testified Friday she was in and out of the room where Calusinski and other center employees cared for Benjamin and seven other children on the day of the tragedy.

She said she had left the room to wash the children's lunch dishes during the time police believe Benjamin suffered his fatal injury, and Calusinski was alone in the room with the children.

Such a scenario would have violated state regulations that require there be at least one adult present for every four children in a licensed day care operation.

After it became known Benjamin had died, Kallinger said, she was one of the center employees Lincolnshire police asked to do a handwritten statement detailing what they knew about what had happened to the toddler.

Kallinger said the facility's owner, Judith Katz of Arlington Heights, took her aside and showed her a statement to police that Katz said she wanted Kallinger to use as a template for her own statement.

The statement Katz had prepared, Kallinger said, included Kallinger placing herself in the room with Calusinski at the time Benjamin was hurt, in keeping with the state regulations.

Although Kallinger said she filled out her statement according to Katz's instructions, she testified Friday she “did not feel right about it” and later got the statement back from Katz and threw it in the garbage.

Lincolnshire police officer Scott Holtz testified earlier in the trial he had found a police statement form with Kallinger's name on it in a garbage can, and had taken it into evidence.

In March 2009, Katz was charged with obstruction of justice after Kallinger and other center employees told police Katz ordered them to make false statements to police.

Katz has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 21.

Kallinger also testified she saw Benjamin throw himself backward while in a seated position and strike the back of his head on the floor on the day he died.

She said Benjamin and other children she had cared for at the center would do so when they were upset.

Kallinger said Benjamin may have deliberately struck his head on the floor a second time on Jan. 14, 2009, but conceded the second incident may have happened on different day.

Calusinski's attorneys claim two physicians will testify later in the trial that Benjamin aggravated pre-existing head injuries by hitting his head on the ground and those injuries caused the skull fracture that killed him.

If convicted, Calusinski faces up to life in prison.

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Normal New Trial Sought in Melissa Calusinski's Murder Case

Post by NiteSpinR on Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:13 am

January 4, 2012

A woman recently convicted of killing a toddler at a Lincolnshire day care center has requested a new trial, arguing that she falsely confessed to the crime and comparing her case to another highly publicized Lake County murder conviction that has been overturned by an appellate court.

A jury on Nov. 16 convicted Melissa Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, of first-degree murder in the 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield.

According to testimony at the trial, Calusinksi told police that she intentionally slammed the boy's head to the ground out of frustration while at the now closed Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire.

But Calusinski's defense team — led by high-profile attorney Kathleen Zellner — believes her confession to police was coerced during a 10-hour interrogation. One of the key errors during the trial, the attorneys allege in their motion for a new trial, is that Judge Daniel Shanes did not allow an expert on false confession to testify and present the jury with information on the phenomenon.

"The defense presented studies … which indicated that jurors do not understand how false confessions occur, why they occur, circumstances under which they occur and that jurors felt it would be helpful if they understood this and were given information about this during trial," the motion states.

In a supplemental motion, the attorneys write that Calusinski's case bears "certain similarities" to the widely publicized case of Juan Rivera, whose conviction for the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old Waukegan girl was thrown out last month.

"In the (Calusinski) case, the defendant has maintained that her 'confession' was false and the subject of coercion, suggestions and false promises of leniency, (and) the defense request for expert testimony on 'false confession' was rejected by this Court," the supplemental motion states. "In Rivera, the statements or confession of Juan Rivera was ultimately rejected by the Appellate Court (which) acknowledged that 'Innocent people do confess to crimes they do not commit.'"

The motion notes that in the Rivera case, the DNA did not correspond with his alleged confession. In Calusinski's case, defense lawyers argue in their motion that evidence and statements from other witnesses did not correspond with her alleged confession.

Both sides are due in court Feb. 23 to hear arguments on the motion for the new trial and, if time permits, for sentencing.


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Normal Re: UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:29 am

How did I miss this thread?

What a crock of shit! She was coerced? Weren't there surveillance camera's???? And, she looks like a meth head. Says she wasn't feeling too well that day. I bet.

She makes me sick..
"my life is ruined"..really? An innocent child is Dead. angry

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Melissa Calusinski Convicted Of The 1st Degree Murder Of Benjamin Kingan, Sentenced to 31 Years In Prison

Post by raine1953 on Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:14 pm

And a meth head working at a day care? Come on, I wonder who the owner is and what the parents were thinking dropping off their kids with someone who looked like that. Not that I'm blaming the parents, I'm not.
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Normal New Trial Denied

Post by NiteSpinR on Sat May 18, 2013 2:05 pm

March 29, 2012

Attorneys for the woman convicted last year of killing a boy at Lake County day care center failed to win her a new trial Thursday after arguing unsuccessfully that a key state witness perjured himself on the stand.

During his testimony in Melissa Calusinski’s trial in November, Dr. Manny Montez, who was consulted during the boy’s autopsy, said he was not certified by the American Board of Pathology because “I have not sat before the board for the test.”

According to records obtained through a subpoena, which was read in Lake County court Thursday, Montez took but did not pass the anatomic portion of the certification exam in September 2001. But he did not take a forensic sub-specialty portion of the exam.

Calusinski’s attorney, Paul DeLuca, said Montez was not being truthful when he said he had not sat for the exam, thus denying his client her right to a fair trial.

Prosecutors argued that Montez did not misrepresent his qualifications and that the outcome would have been the same even if the jury knew he failed the board test.

“He never claimed to be board-certified,” Assistant State’s Attorney Christen Bishop said. “He said, ‘I never sat for the test,’ singular. He didn’t lie. This fact would mean nothing to the jury.”

Montez, who has a contract to perform autopsies for the Lake County coroner, could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said after Thursday’s hearing that he has no concern about Montez’s competence. Many pathologists lack board certification, Yancey noted.

“I think that Dr. Montez is one of the finest, most knowledgeable, well-credentialed forensic pathologists in the area,” Yancey said. “The county is lucky to have him working for us.”

Thursday’s hearing came four months after a jury found Calusinski, 25, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2009 death of Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield. According to testimony at the trial, Calusinski told police that she intentionally slammed the boy’s head to the ground out of frustration while working at the now-closed Minee Subee in the Park day care center.

In January, Calusinski’s attorneys requested a new trial, arguing that she falsely confessed to the crime.

During the trial, Montez testified that he was asked to do a “curbside consultation” on the autopsy performed on Benjamin on Jan. 15, 2009, by Dr. Eupil Choi, one of the office’s deputy coroners. Montez was called by the state as a rebuttal witness to bolster the claims made by other state witnesses.

Thursday, Judge Daniel Shanes agreed with the prosecution while denying the defense’s request for a new trial.

“I do not find that Dr. Montez lied,” Shanes said, adding he didn’t believe Montez’s testimony was enough to sway the outcome of the trial.

“This is a non-issue,” he said. “It would have had the effect of an insect hurtling itself down on an 18-wheeler while it is traveling down the highway. Shakespeare said it better when he entitled his play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”

Montez performs “a significant amount” of autopsies for Lake County, Yancey said, and Montez has testified in several recent high-profile trials. According to court records, he charged the county $800 for two hours of testimony in the trial of Marni Yang, who was convicted of killing Rhoni Reuter while she was pregnant with the child of former Chicago Bears player Shaun Gayle.

Yancey lost the Democratic primary for the coroner’s office last week to Dr. Thomas Rudd, who has said he favors pushing the county away from an elected coroner – often not a doctor – toward an appointed medical examiner. Rudd favors employing a pathologist as a medical examiner who could perform autopsies and oversee the office.

On his campaign Web site, Yancey had touted his move to place Montez under contract, citing his “vast experience in the area of forensic pathology.”

Calusinski’s attorneys say they will appeal her conviction.

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