Friday, February 27, 2015

Melissa Calusinski: Illinois: Former day care worker serving 31-year prison sentence for murder of 16-month old toddler at day care center to appear on "48 hours" Saturday on CBS. She maintains her innocence. Chicago Tribune.

STORY: "Chicago-area woman to appear on '48 Hours,' by reporter Duaa Eldeib, published by the Chicago Tribune on February 27, 2015.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: "Melissa Calusinski is in prison for the murder 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan. Chicago-area woman who will appear on '48 Hours' maintains her innocence. Chicago-area woman serving 31-year prison sentence to share her story on '48 Hours' Former day care worker convicted of murder maintains innocence."

GIST:  "A Chicago-area woman who is serving a 31-year prison sentence for a murder she said she did not commit will share her story with a national audience this weekend on the news program "48 Hours." Melissa Calusinski was convicted of killing 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan by slamming him to the ground at a Lincolnshire day care center in 2009. Calusinski, of Carpentersville, confessed to throwing the Deerfield toddler to the ground but maintained that police coerced the confession during a 10-hour interrogation. She was 25 when she was convicted in 2011.  Her lawyers appealed the ruling, arguing that the evidence didn't prove her guilty of murder and that the jury should not have been allowed to hear the confession. During trial, her defense team also contended that Calusinski's low IQ played a role in her confession. State appellate judges last year rejected the appeal. Authorities have denied that Calusinski's confession was coerced. Her lawyers hope her case will be the latest to unravel in Lake County, a jurisdiction troubled by bungled investigations, false confessions and wrongful convictions. The "48 Hours" segment "Blaming Melissa" will air Saturday on CBS. The show also will include interviews with Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim and Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd, both of whom were elected after Calusinski's conviction. According to "48 Hours," Rudd was "shocked" after his review of the initial autopsy findings."