Supreme Court denies petition to hear Calusinski case in Lincolnshire day care killing

  • Melissa Calusinski

    Melissa Calusinski

 
 

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied a request to hear the appeal of a Carpentersville woman convicted in 2011 for killing a 16-month-old boy at a Lincolnshire day care.

In a two-sentence statement, the state supreme court said it would not review the appeal petition for Melissa Calusinski in the Jan. 14, 2009 death of Benjamin Kingan of Deerfield.

In addition, the court said in the letter it would refer to the 2nd District Appellate Court ruling that upheld her conviction in the toddler's death at the Minee Subee in the Park day care center.

The document, dated Sept. 24, said it would officially return the case to the appellate court Oct. 29.

"I'm not surprised by the Supreme Court decision," Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said Tuesday. He would not elaborate.

Calusinski, now 27, is serving 31 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the case.

Authorities said Calusinski was working as a teacher's aide at the day care center and was alone in the classroom with Benjamin and seven other toddlers when she hurled Benjamin to the floor.

In two videotaped statements to police, Calusinski said she became overwhelmed and frustrated because Benjamin was fussing as she carried him across the room in front of the other children, who were causing a commotion.

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The day care closed shortly after Benjamin's death.

Kathleen Zellner, Calusinski's defense attorney, said the decision by the Supreme Court was expected.

"We assumed they would not take the case," Zellner said, adding the Supreme Court hears only about 2 percent of the cases petitioned to it.

She said the next move is to file another post-conviction petition presenting new medical evidence showing "the alleged confession she gave is not correct."

"Typically what happens in all of these that have been overturned, new medical evidence introduced shows the state's theory at trial was incorrect," she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Zellner refused to discuss the new medical evidence she will present.

In the appellate court's 52-page report released in February, appellate judges ruled the Lake County State's Attorney's Office proved Calusinski was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, that judges did not err in denying a motion to suppress her statements to police, that her trial counsel was not ineffective, and the court did not abuse its discretion during her trial.

This is another setback in a lengthy attempt by Calusinski's legal team to earn a new trial in the case. Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes rejected requests in 2011 and 2012 for new trials, before the appellate court upheld the jury findings earlier this year.

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