Sunday, April 12, 2015

Melissa Calusinski: Illinois; "Blaming Melissa: *Must See video and related CBS Web page at the link below. HL): The CBS '48 Hours' disturbing video documentary about a toddler "murder" case that cries out for review. It's an anatomy of a botched autopsy and a false confession - and the strong possibility that a young woman is in prison, convicted of a "murder" which never occurred. HL);

VIDEO: CBS '48 hours' video documentary: "Blaming Melissa."

STORY: "Blaming Melissa," broadcast by CBC's '48 Hours' on February 28, 2015. Correspondent Erin Moriarty;

SUB-HEADING: "A young Illinois woman is convicted of murder for a toddler in her care. After a nine-hour interrogation and dozens of denials -- is she really guilty?," published by CBC '48 hours' on February 28, 2015."

SUB-HEADING:  "A young Illinois woman is convicted of murder for a toddler in her care. After a nine-hour interrogation and dozens of denials -- is she really guilty?

GIST:  "Melissa Calusinski, 27, spent four years behind bars before Dr. Thomas Rudd, the new Lake County coroner - who is currently running for re-election -- took a look at the autopsy evidence. "I could not believe what I was seeing, because it was the exact opposite of what was written. So, I had my head spinning," Dr. Rudd told Erin Moriarty. At Melissa's trial, state pathologist Dr. Eupil Choi said Benjamin Kingan did not have an old injury, but his own slides showed that the toddler did. "I saw a membrane, and I thought, 'my God,'" said Rudd. "What do you mean when you say you saw a membrane?" Moriarty asked. "You see a scab. Similar to what forms on your skin except it's in the brain," Rudd explained. "This is normal," Dr. Rudd explained, pointing to the bottom of the scan. "Everything above this is abnormal and should not be there. Only this should be there." Holding up a slide of the infant's brain, Rudd points out what is normal versus abnormal on the scan. Rudd says Dr. Choi made a glaring error when he said Ben was severely injured on the day he died. It's obvious that injury was old, he says. "This is a membrane, this is a scar tissue, this is a scab," Rudd told Moriarty, referring to the slide. "By definition if you have a membrane you have an old injury." The autopsy slides - and others he prepared himself - confirmed his findings. "Every one showed iron ... that is definitive proof that it's an old injury," Rudd explained, pointing out spots on the slide. "Any resident in first-year pathology can recognize this." And he didn't stop there. Rudd turned to well-regarded pathologist and former Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Nancy Jones for another opinion. She also saw evidence of an old injury - one that had been healing for about two to three months -- a time frame consistent with that bump the day care workers noticed on Ben's head. "How big was that old injury?" Moriarty asked Rudd. "Four inch by four inch," he replied. "Isn't that significant -" Moriarty commented. "Huge, hugely significant. And how they let that go is beyond me," Rudd replied. "But you're saying, though, something else did happen on the day Ben died?" Moriarty asked. "Correct. ...A minor injury. He could have just twisted his head really fast," Rudd explained. "The added fluid of the recent injury ... pushes that brain down and shuts down the breathing system. That is the -- the cause of the child's death. It was the old injury. The old injury was massive." Both doctors Rudd and Jones believe that injury had been exacerbated by "cumulative incidents of head banging." "He was what we call a head banger," said Rudd, who felt he had to act. "At some point did you reach out to Dr. Choi?" Moriarty asked. "Yes, that was very interesting," he replied. Asked if he was nervous about it, Rudd said, "Yes ... I thought for a very long time, 'How will I do this?'" To Rudd's relief, Dr. Choi admitted he was wrong. He even signed a sworn affidavit, conceding that, "in my report and testimony I missed that Ben had suffered an old injury..." but he crossed out the word "significant."  "I've never seen the key pathologist for the State give an affidavit after the trial, after the conviction, saying, 'Whoops, I missed that prior injury,'" said Kathleen Zellner. That affidavit is a game changer says Melissa's lawyer, Chicago attorney Kathleen Zellner.........Melissa Calusinski says she still can't explain why six years ago she told police she killed Benjamin Kingan and even demonstrated how she did it. "Do you understand why the state's attorney thinks this is a true confession? Is this a confession?" Moriarty asked Melissa. "That is not a confession," she replied. "What is this?" Moriarty asked. "That's a bunch of lies," she said. But it doesn't look or sound like a lie:......... Attorney Kathleen Zellner says Melissa Calusinski deserves a new day in court -- where a jury hears all the evidence. "All through this trial, the prosecution claimed there was no old injury. Their whole theory was he was slammed down on the floor and it happened that day and then he died and that was it," Zeller said. "What if both sides had said yeah, there was an old injury? ... I think that would [have] mattered." "How wrong were the state's medical witnesses?" Moriarty asked Dr.   Dr. Rudd wrote to Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, asking him to take a new look at the case. "Has the state's attorney ever called you about your findings?" Moriarty asked Rudd. "No," he replied. Nerheim has still not discussed the case with his own county's coroner. "You're not concerned ... that one of the most important witnesses at this trial ... admits he made a mistake?" Moriarty asked Nerheim. "If his mistake changed the ultimate -- his ultimate opinion, which he hasn't said that it did, that would concern me," he replied. After this interview, Nerheim gave "48 Hours" a new statement from Dr. Eupil Choi. In it, Dr. Choi doesn't deny he made an error, but he now writes that error wouldn't have changed his testimony at trial. Dr. Rudd says he's confused. "He says it wouldn't have changed his testimony. Does that make sense?" Moriarty asked Rudd. "No, not at all. Not at all," he replied. "For him to say that makes absolutely no sense," he replied. "Does this make you question your determination?" Moriarty asked. "None whatsoever," said Rudd. Zellner believes the medical evidence has to be re-examined to determine exactly how Ben Kingan died. "Let's agree on a panel of experts to review this case. And let's see what they conclude about the theory that was presented to the jury," said Zellner. That's not a far-fetched idea. In Lake County, Illinois, like a growing number of jurisdictions, there is an independent panel specifically set up to review questionable convictions. All the state's attorney has to do is pass this case on. So far, he's refused.........The video and related Web page entire story can be found at:

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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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