Jury begins review of Calusinski questioning session
Two days after Benjamin Kingan died at the day care center where Melissa Calusinski worked, Calusinski began a conversation with two detectives in a casual and relaxed manner.
There would be some crying, some accusing, some denying and some shouting over the next 10 hours before the Carpentersville woman finally tells police she killed Benjamin.
Or at least that's what is depicted on a portion of the video shown to the eight women and four men on the jury at Calusinski's first-degree murder trial in Lake County Circuit Court.
Calusinski's lawyers claim the detectives took advantage of their client's low IQ and browbeat her into confessing to a crime she did not commit.
They say Benjamin aggravated an existing injury through his habit of throwing himself backward and striking his head on the floor, which the attorneys say happened at least twice on the day he died.
On the day she was questioned, Calusinski was taken from the Minee Subee in the Park day care center in Lincolnshire to the Lake Zurich police station.
Highland Park detective Sean Curran and Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko were assigned to question Calusinski in their roles as investigators for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.
Calusinski initially tells the detectives she became aware something was wrong with Benjamin when she could not get him to wake up as he sat in a chair in the classroom she was supervising.
Curran and Filenko tell Calusinski it is "a medical certainty" Benjamin died of a severe blow to the head inflicted shortly before he became unconscious.
They encourage her to tell them everything she knows about what happened, calling her "a good person" and urge her "to be a witness, not an offender."
In the tape of the first hours of questioning played for jurors Wednesday, Calusinski maintains she did nothing to harm Benjamin and saw no one else harm him.
"I never put a hand on him," Calusinski says, crying. "I could never do anything like that."
The first suggestion Benjamin may have hit his head by throwing himself backward comes from Curran, who tells her his own son does that sometimes.
Calusinski at first says she did not see anything like that happen, but says later on the video that Benjamin had a similar habit.
Prosecutors say there is nearly five hours of interaction between Calusinski and the police across the 10 hours she was with them before being charged with Benjamin's murder.
The remainder of the interview tape is expected to be played for the jury on Thursday.
If convicted, Calusinski faces up to life in prison.