Woman’s second confession of toddler’s death played in court

Even after more than 10 hours of answering police questions about the death of a toddler in her care, Melissa Calusinski was not done talking, a detective testified Wednesday.

A video and audio recording of Calusinski admitting for the second time she threw 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan to the floor in a fit of frustration was played in Lake County circuit court.

Calusinski, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in his Jan. 14, 2009, death at the former Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire.

Her attorneys are trying to convince Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes that nothing she said to police two days after Benjamin’s death should be used against her during a trial.

At earlier hearings, a recording of Calusinski being questioned by two detectives of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force was shown in court. On it, she originally denies doing anything to the boy and offers several theories about how he could have been harmed accidentally.

But toward the end of the 10-hour session at the Lake Zurich police station, where the detectives had taken Calusinski for questioning, she is seen on the recording admitting she threw Benjamin to the ground when she became frustrated with other children in the room.

Police said an autopsy established Benjamin died of a massive skull fracture inflicted with force equal to that of a fall from a one- to two-story building.

When her confession was complete and she was placed under arrest, Lincolnshire police were called to pick up Calusinski and take her to their holding cells.

Detective Adam Hyde testified he was detailed to transport Calusinski, and once they arrived at the Lincolnshire station, she apologized for lying in the initial hours of the investigation.

Hyde testified Calusinski told him she wanted to talk to him, and he arranged for recording equipment to be set up in the police station booking room.

On the recording of that conversation, Calusinski again says she was holding Benjamin near her chest as the toddler squirmed to be set down.

Other children in the classroom where she served as a teacher’s aide were “yelling and screaming,” and Calusinski tells Hyde she lost her patience.

She says she threw Benjamin, and heard the back of his head bounce off the floor. She described the force of the throw as an “Eight on a scale of one to 10.”

Benjamin rolled over, Calusinski said, grabbed his blanket and crawled to his favorite chair and sat in a slumped position.

Calusinski is seen telling Hyde it was five to 10 minutes before she looked at Benjamin, and it appeared he was sleeping.

“I went over and shook his hand while I said ‘Ben, Ben,’ but I couldn’t wake him up,” Calusinski says on the recording. “I ran right for the phone.”

Benjamin died about 30 minutes later at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

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