Calusinski case continued until March
The father of a Carpentersville woman seeking a new trial in the death of a 16-month-old child said he is confident his daughter will eventually be found innocent and freed from prison.
Paul Calusinski was in court Friday as defense attorneys for Melissa Calusinski, 28, requested 60 days to respond to a state's motion to not grant his daughter a new trial.
The brief hearing ended after Judge Daniel Shanes set a status hearing for March 11. Defense attorneys have until then to file their response.
"The judge didn't say 'no'," Paul Calusinski said during a news conference where he was asked if he was still hopeful his daughter would receive a new trial. "As long as the judge didn't use that two-letter word, we're good to go."
Melissa Calusinski was sentenced to 31 years in prison after a jury convicted her of first-degree murder in the death of Benjamin Kingan. Calusinski was found guilty of throwing the Deerfield boy to the floor at the now-closed Minee Subee in the Park day care in Lincolnshire, causing a fatal head injury.
After an appeal was denied by the state appellate court in February 2014, defense attorney Kathleen Zellner claimed in a post-trial petition requesting a new trial for Melissa Calusinski that a second set of legible autopsy X-rays taken of the toddler's skull clearly showed he suffered from a pre-existing injury when he died.
The petition also states an anonymous caller told Calusinski's father to find an enhanced set of X-rays at the Lake County coroner's office. Paul Calusinski contacted Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd, who found the X-rays, the document states.
However, prosecutors filed a 37-page motion to dismiss the new trial request, claiming the "new" X-ray evidence was actually old evidence defense attorneys had in their possession but never electronically enhanced before trial.
Prosecutors said a digital computer program was sent with the previous X-ray file that gave attorneys the ability to brighten the image. However, defense attorneys never used it.
Prosecutors also claim in the court document the X-rays do not change the jury's findings that Melissa Calusinski was found guilty of throwing Benjamin to the floor, which caused his death. They added in the document that, even if Benjamin had a previous head injury, a jury found her actions were the contributing factor in the death.
If a new trial is granted, it would take place later this year, officials said.