WAUKEGAN, Ill -- Recently discovered evidence sheds new light on the case of a suburban day care worker convicted of murdering a child.
The Lake County coroner has changed the manner of death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan from “homicide” to “undetermined.” The coroner uncovered x-rays he says clears Melissa Calusinski of any wrongdoing. Her family is hoping this new evidence helps her get a new trial or gets her out of prison.
In 2009, Calusinski was convicted of throwing Benjamin to the ground causing head injuries that killed him. She was his caregiver at a Lincolnshire day care center.
But a an x-ray found in June in the county’s database shows the toddler didn’t die from a skull fracture that January day but died from a previous injury to his brain.
Defense attorneys say they were never given this x-ray and the coroner says it proves Calusinski couldn’t have killed the boy.
The injury in question actually happened in October of 2008 at the same daycare although Melissa wasn’t working there at the time. No one could explain how Benjamin got a tangerine-sized bump on the back of his head. County coroner Dr. Rudd says chronic swelling of Ben’s brain from that injury, and because of continued banging of his head from normal behavior and repeated concussions, caused his death. He believes Ben’s pediatrician misdiagnosed him.
Paul Calusinski has been fighting for his daughter’s release since the day she was jailed. He’s pleading to Judge Daniel Shanes to release her.
“There is no doubt in my mind the jury would have seen that this was all a line of crap and it was all fabricated,” Paul said.
The Lake County state’s attorney’s spokesperson says they were caught off guard by this accusation and issued a statement "We are currently reviewing these documents to determine whether this material had previously been given to the defense, whether this in fact is new material, and whether these images have any added significance to what was previously presented at this defendant’s murder trial. “
Michael Waller was state’s attorney when this trial took place and left office in 2012. A petition for a new trial will be ruled on in September.