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updated: 6/21/2011 2:30 PM

Confession attacked in Lincolnshire day care death

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  • Melissa Calusinski

      Melissa Calusinski

 
 

Defense attorneys for the woman accused of killing a toddler at a Lincolnshire day care center have begun their effort to keep the woman's confession from being used against her.

Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes on Monday reviewed the videotaped questioning session of Melissa Calusinski, 24, of Carpentersville, and is expected to begin hearing testimony from witnesses Tuesday.

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Calusinski faces up to life in prison if convicted in the Jan. 14, 2009 death of 18-month-old Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield.

She was a teacher's aide at the former Minee Subee in the Park day care center and was one of three center employees assigned to the classroom where Benjamin was on the day he died.

Detectives from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force questioned Calusinski for more than 10 hours two days after Benjamin died, and the session was recorded on videotape.

On the tape, which was first shown in court last year during a hearing challenging the legality of Calusinski's arrest that ultimately failed, she at first tells the detectives she had no idea how Benjamin came to be injured.

She then suggests Benjamin had a habit of hurling himself backward while seated and hitting his head on the floor, then ultimately says she threw him to the floor when she became upset with other children in the room.

Defense attorneys Paul DeLuca and Daniel Cummings contend Calusinski did not fully understand she was not required to talk to police, and that detectives took advantage of their client's low IQ and suggestibility to adult authority.

They also claim in other court filings that two pathologists believe Benjamin died from bleeding in his brain from a prior injury that could have been aggravated by the deliberate striking of his head against the floor Calusinski describe.

Police said an autopsy established Benjamin died of a skull fracture inflicted with a force equal to a fall from a one- or two-story building.

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