Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bulletin: Melissa Calusinski; Extraordinary development: Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd has reclassified the child's cause of death from "homicide" to 'undetermined" in light of new evidence - X-Rays - revealed by CBS "48 Hours."

"The Lake County coroner's office — citing new evidence in the case of a toddler whose death resulted in the controversial murder conviction of a suburban day care worker — has reclassified the child's cause of death from homicide to "undetermined." Coroner Thomas Rudd, who has advocated in the defense of the day care worker, Melissa Calusinski, announced Wednesday that after reviewing the case, "It is impossible to conclude that the final head injury was intentionally inflicted."  Calusinski, 28, who lived in Carpentersville, is serving a 31-year sentence for a first-degree murder conviction after authorities argued at her trial that she slammed the 16-month-old boy, Benjamin Kingan, to the ground while working at Minee Subee day care center in Lincolnshire. "Most important was the fact that the original injury to the head was not an acute injury, but instead a severe chronic injury," Rudd stated in a news release.  Calusinski's lawyers recently filed a court petition that seeks to get her a new trial, saying that X-rays reveal that medical experts for the state inaccurately concluded that the child suffered an acute injury the day of his death in 2009. "New evidence has now come forward," stated Rudd, who said he consulted with an independent pathologist.  "On June 10, 2015, X-rays of the decedent were discovered on file in the Coroner's Office that according to the defense attorneys were not shared or provided to them prior to or during the trial.".........Calusinski's lawyers have long said that she was coerced into confessing during a 10-hour interrogation that relied on faulty information from forensic pathologist Eupil Choi, who performed the autopsy. Choi later signed a statement in which he admitted that he "missed that (Ben) had suffered an old injury" that predated the day of his death, the petition states.........Kathleen Zellner, Calusinski's lawyer, said she will include in the post-conviction petition Rudd's finding that cause of death was "undetermined." "It is very, very unusual for a coroner to change the cause of death finding, but Dr. Rudd's conclusions are consistent with the independent investigation that he conducted," she said Wednesday. "I am not going to predict an outcome, but I have not found a case where the pathologist who did the autopsy admitted he made a mistake and told the jury incorrect information," Zellner said. "This case is unique in case law across the country." In May, Rudd called for the state's attorney to review the case on the national television show, "48 Hours," which featured Calusinski's case in an episode called "Blaming Melissa."