Former day care owner's obstruction trial begins Monday in Lake County

  • Judith Katz

    Judith Katz

  • Melissa Calusinski

    Melissa Calusinski

 
 
Posted4/13/2012 3:21 PM

An Arlington Heights woman charged with obstructing justice following the 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan at a Lincolnshire day care center, will go on trial Monday, a Lake County judge ruled Friday.

Circuit Judge John Phillips denied the defense's motion to dismiss charges against Judith Katz, former owner of the shuttered Minee Subee in the Park. Authorities say Katz instructed employees to lie about how many adults were present when Melissa Calusinski threw the Deerfield toddler to the ground causing a fatal head injury.

 

Calusinski, 25, of Carpentersville, was convicted of first-degree murder last year and sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Police say Calusinski was alone with eight children at the time of Kingan's death. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services requires at least one adult supervisor for every four children in a day care center room.

As Friday's hearing concluded, Phillips inquired about a possible disposition.

"Have you tried to discuss a resolution?" he asked defense attorney Jack Carriglio and Assistant State's Attorney Christen Bishop.

"We made an offer and it was rejected," Bishop said.

Katz, who has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, appeared in court in a wheelchair. If convicted of the class 4 felony, the 67-year-old could face one to three years in prison. Probation is also an option.

Last month, Phillips granted prosecutors' motion to amend the charge to remove the accusation that Katz made false statements "to the police."

Carriglio argued that made the charge too vague and it should be dismissed because it lacked specificity as to whom his clients made her alleged statements.

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Additionally, he suggested that for obstruction to occur, a defendant would have had to make statements to the "body administering justice," namely the police.

Bishop countered that whether Katz provided police false information or had an employee do it is a trial issue.

As for specificity, "it couldn't be clearer as to when she stated the information and what her intent was," Bishop said.

Katz's bench trial is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Lake County courtroom 202.

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