Differing accounts of boy's behavior before death at Lincolnshire day care

Two employees of a Lincolnshire day care center gave different accounts of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan's behavior just hours before he died on Jan. 14, 2009, an investigator testified Wednesday.

James Siefken, an investigator with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said one of the women who was with Benjamin between 11 a.m. and noon said the boy deliberately threw himself backward and hit his head on the floor.

The other woman said she did not recall the boy doing anything of that nature on that day, Siefken said, and neither women was in the room more than three hours later when police say Benjamin suffered the injury that killed him.

Melissa Calusinski, 23, of Carpentersville, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly throwing Benjamin to the floor around 3:50 p.m. that day after she became angry with other children in his class.

Police say she confessed to doing so and her attorneys are seeking to have a judge rule her statements to police were illegally obtained and cannot be used against her.

Siefken testified Wednesday he interviewed Gwendy Hernandez, who was assigned to Benjamin's class at the Mini Subee in the Park center along with Calusinski.

Siefken said Hernandez told him she was in the room between 11 a.m. and noon, when Nancy Callinger came in to relieve Calusinski for a lunch break.

Hernandez told him she observed nothing out of the ordinary about Benjamin's behavior, Siefken said, and that he seemed happy after working on an art project with the rest of the children in the class.

But Callinger said she saw Benjamin get upset at something and throw himself backward onto the floor, Siefken said.

Callinger did not say Benjamin appeared to be injured, and returned to playing with the rest of the children.

Neither women was in the room when police said Calusinski delivered the blow that led to Benjamin's death, Siefken said.

Callinger left that classroom when Calusinski returned from lunch, and Hernandez said she stepped out of the room around 3:15 p.m., leaving Calusinski alone in the room with Benjamin and the rest of the children in that class.

Testimony in the hearing is expected to continue next month. A trial date for Calusinski, who is held on $5 million bond, has not yet been set.