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updated: 11/11/2011 4:36 PM

Defense testimony: Day-care worker sought help for toddler

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  • Melissa Calusinski

      Melissa Calusinski

 
 

Melissa Calusinski yelled for help the afternoon a 16-month-old boy died from injuries he suffered in a Lincolnshire day-care center's classroom where she worked, her sister testified Friday.

Crystal and Melissa Calusinski worked at now-shuttered Minee Subee in the Park. Melissa Calusinski is accused of killing Benjamin Kingan in the day-care on Jan. 14, 2009.

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Nothing seemed unusual at the day-care center until 3:30 or 4 p.m. that day, Crystal Calusinski testified on direct examination by defense attorney Paul DeLuca. That's when she heard her sister yelling, "Help, help."

"I ran into the room," she told a jury of eight women and four men. "I saw Benjamin Kingan in his bouncy chair and there was foam coming out of his mouth."

Crystal Calusinski said she began cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Benjamin and received assistance from another employee. Lincolnshire police and paramedics then arrived.

"She (Melissa) was scared, like upset, wondering what was going on," Crystal Calusinski said. She added her sister was "very good" with the day-care's children.

Crystal Calusinski, 26, of Mount Prospect, was the first defense witness called in her younger sister's murder trial. The defense began putting on its side of the case when Lake County prosecutors rested after eight days of testimony.

Prosecutors contend Melissa Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, threw Benjamin to the floor when she became frustrated with him and the seven other children in the room where she served as a teacher's aide.

But defense lawyers say the toddler aggravated an existing head injury through his habit of throwing himself backward from a sitting position and hitting his head on the floor behind him.

Crystal Calusinski testified that her sister started working with her at Minee Subee in 2008. She said Melissa spent time at Minee Subee's north Arlington Heights facility before rejoining her in Lincolnshire in October 2008.

Testifying for the prosecution Friday, Dr. Daniel Lum said Benjamin didn't have a medical condition that would have led to his death at Minee Subee. Lum said he's been a pediatrician to the Kingan family's children.

Benjamin's father, Andrew Kingan, also provided testimony that contradicted the defense's claim the toddler aggravated an existing head injury the day he died.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to continue Monday morning in Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes' courtroom.

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