Thursday, June 25, 2015

Melissa Calusinski: Illinois: CBS '48 Hours' correspondent Erin Moriarty, who investigated Melissa Calusinski's conviction, asks whether newly discovered X-Ray evidence will free the convicted Illinois day care worker. (Must Read. HL);

"The latest chapter in Melissa Calusinski's bid for a new trial began earlier this month with an anonymous phone call to her father. The call is detailed in an extensive pleading filed Tuesday by Kathleen Zellner, Melissa's defense attorney in Lake County, Ill. Circuit Court.  "Mr. Calusinski, you need to tell your attorneys to get the second set of X-rays of Ben Kingan from the Lake County Coroner's office," the male caller said. Paul Calusinski, who says he didn't recognize the voice, asked "Who is this?", but the caller had already hung up. .........Now, in a newly filed petition asking for her conviction to be vacated, defense attorney Kathleen Zellner reveals the new evidence uncovered by that anonymous phone call, a set of X-rays taken during Ben Kingan's autopsy. Zellner says Melissa Calusinski was wrongfully convicted on false medical evidence and that authorities "suppressed" the X-rays that support her innocence. That "false" evidence, as everyone who watched "Blaming Melissa" on "48 Hours" knows, is that Ben Kingan had died due to an acute injury suffered on the day of his death. In fact, Dr. Eupil Choi, the pathologist who did the autopsy on Ben Kingan, has since admitted that he made a mistake at autopsy and failed to identify evidence of an earlier injury. Zellner says the newly discovered X-rays further prove that Ben had swelling in the brain in the days and weeks before he died. According to the defense filing, Ben's head in an X-ray "appears shaped like an old-fashioned light bulb," that "Ben's brain was swelled in close proximity of his skull" and that such swelling was unlikely to occur overnight due to an acute injury. Zellner also contends that the newly discovered X-rays raise doubts that Ben Kingan had suffered a skull fracture on the day he died, as Dr. Choi stated and prosecutors reminded jurors over and over again at trial. Paul DeLuca, Melissa's trial lawyer, claims in an affidavit filed in support of Zellner's petition that he had asked for the entire file, including any X-rays, but was told by then Lake County assistant state's attorney Christen Bishop that X-rays taken were "not readable or legible." He says he was given a disc with unreadable ones, but why wasn't he given the others that suddenly appeared? Were they deliberately withheld from the defense? Who is the anonymous caller who finally let Melissa's family know the X-rays existed? And why now? And there is this question: If Zellner is right and the X-rays further support the theory that Ben Kingan was injured before Melissa Calusinski even worked at the daycare center, then why did she confess? Zellner says that Melissa, who has a low IQ, adopted the story "forced upon her by police" who mistakenly believed that Ben Kingan had an acute injury that could only have happened that day. The proof, says Zellner, is that the story Melissa eventually told police doesn't match the actual evidence: Ben "did not sustain a single injury to his back, shoulders or neck" that would have resulted from being thrown to the ground."