Expert: Day care death defendant “low average” intelligence

A psychologist testified Thursday that the woman accused in the 2009 death of a toddler at a former Lincolnshire day care center functions at the low end of the average range of intelligence.

The opinion of Robert Hanlon, an expert hired by Melissa Calusinski's defense team, could be crucial to her attempt to keep her confession to the murder of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan from being used against her.

On Jan. 16, 2009, Calusinski was videotaped telling detectives from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force that she threw Benjamin to the ground while she was acting as a teacher's aide at the former Minee Subee in the Park center.

Calusinski's defense team argues their client was tricked by police into confessing to the crime and that investigators took advantage of her low IQ.

Prosecutors counter that Calusinski is shown on the videotape saying she understands her rights to remain silent and to speak to an attorney before answering police questions, and allowed the questioning to go on.

Hanlon testified Thursday he interviewed Calusinski, 24, of Carpentersville, in May 2010 in the Lake County jail.

Hanlon said he reviewed Calusinski's medical, psychological and educational records, and gave her a series of tests designed to measure mental functions.

He said Calusinski has an IQ of 82, which is in the low end of the average range for intelligence, and tests on the borderline between low average and mentally impaired in other areas.

Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Demartini's cross-examination of Hanlon was interrupted Thursday when attorneys discovered they had not provided each other with all the written material relevant to Hanlon's testimony.

Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes suspended the hearing and ordered the parties to return to court July 12.