Attorneys discuss jury selection procedures for Calusinski trial

Unique jury selection procedures may be used in the trial expected to begin next month of a former Lincolnshire day care center worker accused of murdering a toddler in her care.

Attorneys on both sides of the Melissa Calusinski murder case indicated to Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes they may want potential jurors to fill out questionnaires and to be questioned individually instead of in groups.

Calusinski, 24, faces up to life in prison if convicted in the Jan. 14, 2009 death of 18-month-old Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield at the former Minee Subee in the Park day care center.

The attorneys met informally Tuesday with Shanes to discuss the process of selecting the jury in the trial expected to begin Oct. 31.

Although no decisions were made, the attorneys indicated they wanted to have prospective jurors fill out questionnaires before being considered for the panel.

The attorneys said they wanted to probe the candidates’ attitudes and biases regarding the pretrial publicity in the case, law enforcement and day care safety issues before they come to the courtroom.

Once the potential jurors are in the courtroom for the selection process, the lawyers said, they may ask Shanes to question them individually instead of in groups as is usually done.

The attorneys said they did not want the answers of one juror to influence the responses of others.

Earlier this month, Shanes ruled that prosecutors will be able to use as evidence both videotaped confessions Calusinski gave police two days after Benjamin died.

In the confessions, which were shown in court during earlier hearings, Calusinski tells police she threw Benjamin to the floor when she became upset with other children in the room.

Shanes also denied a defense request to have experts on police interrogation techniques and the probability of certain individuals confessing to crimes they did not commit testify during the trial.

The defense claims it has a doctor who will testify that Benjamin fractured his skull by aggravating a pre-existing injury by pounding his own head on the floor.

Depending on the length of jury selection, the lawyers estimate the trial could last up to three weeks.

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