Calusinski's father says daughter never admitted killing boy

Melissa Calusinski's father testified Tuesday that his daughter never told him she had killed a toddler at the Lincolnshire day care center where she worked, contradicting earlier statements from a police investigator.

Paul Calusinski, barred by court rules from repeating exactly what his daughter said during a phone call shortly after her arrest, said only that the conversation “was completely different” from what a Lincolnshire detective testified earlier in the trial.

Melissa Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, is nearing the end of her first-degree murder trial in Lake County circuit court for the Jan. 14, 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan.

Police said Calusinski, who worked as a teacher's aide at the former Minee Subee in the Park day care, admitted she hurled the Deerfield boy to the floor when she became upset with the commotion he and the other children were raising.

Last week, Det. Adam Hyde testified he was handling the booking process for Calusinski at the Lincolnshire police station after she had confessed to two other detectives two days after Benjamin's death.

Hyde said Calusinski voluntarily repeated her confession to him, which was recorded on videotape, then asked to call her father. There was no audio recording made of the phone call, but Hyde testified he heard Calusinski tell her father she threw Benjamin to the ground “with a full force throw.”

Paul Calusinski denied those words were spoken by his daughter during the phone call, and also disputed Hyde's recollection that she had said “Daddy, I did it.”

Melissa Calusinski's defense attorneys claim Benjamin died when he aggravated an existing brain injury by deliberately banging his own head on the floor.

They say her confessions were coerced by detectives who exploited her low IQ and convinced her to tell them what they wanted to hear about Benjamin's death.

Prosecutors argue that there was no coercion and that their medical experts found no evidence of any injury to Benjamin's brain before the day he died.

Closing arguments in the case are expected sometime Wednesday. If convicted of murder in the case, Calusinski faces up to life in prison.

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