Last-minute changes delay Lincolnshire day care obstruction of justice case
Procedural moves by both sides of the Judith Katz obstruction of justice case forced a delay of her trial Monday in Lake County Circuit Court.
Circuit Judge John Phillips expressed his displeasure with the last-minute changes, but said a delay to allow further investigation of the case "was in the best interests of justice for all sides."
Katz, 67, of Arlington Heights, is the former owner of the Minee Subee in the Park day care center where 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield was murdered on Jan. 14, 2009.
She was charged shortly after the slaying when police said she instructed center employees to lie to police about how many adults were present in the room when Melissa Calusinski threw Benjamin to the floor and caused a fatal head injury.
Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, was convicted of first-degree murder last year and has been sentenced to 31 years in prison.
The state Department of Children and Family Services requires there be at least one adult supervisor for every four children in a day care center room. Police alleged Calusinski was in the room alone with eight children when Benjamin died.
According to the original charges against her, Katz told two teacher assistants to tell police there was another adult present in the room with Calusinski when Benjamin was injured.
As the trial was about to start Monday, Lake County prosecutors moved to amend the language in the charge against Katz to remove the accusation that she made false statements "to the police."
Assistant State's Attorney Christen Bishop argued Katz need not have spoken directly to police to commit obstruction of justice, and her instructions to two center employees were sufficient to sustain the crime.
Also on Monday, defense attorney Jack Carriglio of Chicago moved to bar the testimony of the two center employees who police claim Katz instructed to lie.
Carriglio claimed there was no evidence Katz had spoken directly to either employee named in the complaint, and therefore no evidence Katz had sought to convince anyone to lie.
Phillips set the case over for trial to April 16 and ordered both sides to return to court with any final motions on March 30.
In March 2010, Minee Subee in the Park, Inc., agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Benjamin's parents for $2 million and the center has since reopened under new management.
If convicted, Katz faces up to three years in prison but would also be eligible for probation. She is free from custody on bond.