Day care killing suspect suggests another cause for death

After nearly four hours of police questioning about the death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, Melissa Calusinski tells police she saw the toddler do something that may have caused his fatal injury, a videotape of that interview shows.

Toward the end of the tape shown during a hearing in Lake County court Friday, Calusinski tells detectives she and another center employee saw Benjamin throw himself backward while sitting on the floor and strike the back of his head.

Calusinski was unaware at the time of the Jan. 16, 2009 interview with detectives from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force that they had already ruled out that activity as the cause of the boy's death.

Benjamin, of Deerfield, died two days before the interview while being cared for by Calusinski and others at the former Mini Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire.

Police say an autopsy established Benjamin died from an injury inflicted with a force equal to the boy being dropped from a two-story building.

On a videotape of the questioning shown in the courtroom of Lake County Associate Judge Christopher Stride, Calusinski is adamant she did nothing to harm the boy.

Police say Calusinski ultimately told them she hurled Benjamin to the floor when she became upset with other children in the room.

Friday's hearing was for the defense motion to bar her statements from being used against her at trial. It is expected to continue Dec. 14.

On the tape, detectives Sean Curran and George Felinko repeatedly caution Calusinski that it is in her best interests to tell them if she is aware of something that may have accidentally happened to the boy.

Felinko is seen telling Calusinski that based on what detectives know about Benjamin's death, it was caused by “flat-out murder,” and she has the opportunity “to be a good witness or a co-conspirator to a murder.”

Calusinski, 24, of Carpentersville, maintains she did nothing willful to the child and would explain the circumstances if something she did by accident harmed the boy.

“I would tell you; I would tell you if I made a mistake,” she says. “I would say this is what happened and I am completely so sorry.”

Defense attorneys claim the boy threw himself backward while sitting on the floor and struck the back of his head three times on the day he died and that may have contributed to his death.