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updated: 2/20/2014 5:04 AM

Appellate court upholds day care murder conviction

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  • Melissa Calusinski of Carpentersville

      Melissa Calusinski of Carpentersville

 
 

An Illinois appellate court Wednesday upheld the 2011 conviction of a Carpentersville woman in the death of a 16-month-old Deerfield toddler at a now-closed Lincolnshire day care.

A 52 page ruling released by the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois read the conviction of first-degree murder was affirmed against Melissa Calusinski of Carpentersville after the Lake County state's attorney's office proved she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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In addition, the ruling handed down Wednesday reads the trial court did not err in denying Calusinski's motion to suppress her statements to police, Calusinski's trial counsel was not ineffective, and the court did not abuse its discretion during her trial.

"I reviewed the entire case at the request of her attorney shortly after taking office and did not at that time find any reason to override the decision of the jury," Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said late Wednesday. "The Illinois Appellate Court came to the same conclusion based on their review of the case."

Calusinski, now 27, is serving 31 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder for the Jan. 14, 2009, death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire.

Authorities said Calusinski was working as a teacher's aide and was alone in the classroom with Benjamin and seven other toddlers when she hurled Benjamin to the floor.

In two videotaped statements to police, Calusinski said she became overwhelmed and frustrated because Benjamin was fussing as she carried him across the room in front of the other children, who were causing a commotion.

The day care closed shortly after Benjamin's death.

This is another setback in a lengthy attempt by Calusinski's legal team to earn a new trial for the Carpentersville woman. Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes rejected requests in 2011 and 2012 by Calusinski's attorneys for new trials.

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