Judge rejects Calusinski's second bid for new trial in child's murder

A Lake County judge on Thursday denied the second request for a new trial filed by attorneys for Melissa Calusinski.

Calusinski, 25, formerly of Carpentersville, is serving 31 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in November for the Jan. 14, 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan at a Lincolnshire day care center.

Benjamin, of Deerfield, was one of the children in Calusinski's care at the former Minee Subee in the Park, which closed shortly after his death.

In February, Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes rejected arguments by Calusinski's attorneys that she should receive a new trial because, they claimed, police coerced her into admitting she hurled the child to the ground, causing a fatal head injury.

On Thursday, defense attorney Paul DeLuca argued that a state witness, Dr. Manuel Montez, had perjured himself when testifying about his educational background.

DeLuca said Montez never told jurors that he had not taken the anatomical and forensic sections of the test for certification as a forensic pathologist.

But Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Christen Bishop responded that Montez told jurors he was not board-certified and no one had asked him what specific subsections of the test he had not taken.

No perjury occurred in the course of Montez's testimony, Shanes ruled, adding that he considered the entire matter “much ado about nothing.”

Judith Katz, the former owner of Minee Subee, is scheduled to go to trial April 16 on allegations she instructed center employees to lie to police about how many adults were present in the room when Calusinski threw Benjamin to the floor. The trial had been set to begin March 12, but was postponed by procedural issues.

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