Monday, October 13, 2014

Melissa Calusinski; Illinois Supreme Court keeps doors shut to her - even though the county coroner reopened the investigation, reviewed new evidence, and discovered that the 16-month-old boy had suffered a prior injury prior to his death. Lake County News-Sun.

STORY: "Supreme Court denies appeal of day care worker's murder conviction," by reporter Frank Abderholden, published by the Lake County News-Sun.

GIST:  "The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled it would not take up the case of a Lincolnshire day care worker who was sentenced to 31 years in prison for the death of a 16-month-old boy in 2009. “I’m not surprised by the decision,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, confirming the state Supreme Court’s refusal. But the attorney for Melissa Calusinski, who was convicted of killing Deerfield toddler Benjamin Kingan on Jan. 14, 2009, when she became frustrated and hurled him to the floor at the Minee Subee day care center, said she will continue to push for a new trial. Attorney Kathleen Zellner said an expert witness has revised his conclusion, since the original autopsy was completed, to now include evidence the boy suffered another injury prior to the day he died. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd reopened the investigation and determined there was a prior injury. He made his decision after reviewing the trial testimony, obtaining new evidence and analyzing Forensic Pathologist Eupil Choi’s findings. Choi stated in a sworn affidavit that the boy “had suffered an old injury that pre-dated Jan. 14, 2009,” the date of his death. The affidavit has been a key part of the defense’s argument for a new trial. Zellner called attempts to get the case before the high court a long shot, saying, “They deny a petition for appeal about 98 percent of the time.” But Zellner is still pressing on with a post-conviction petition in Lake County Circuit Court. “It’s a work in progress,” she said.".........Calusinski was taken in for questioning after the toddler’s death, and according to evidence at trial, told police she intentionally slammed the boy’s head to the ground out of frustration when children were crying. Despite the confession, Calusinski has since maintained she was wrongly targeted. Both she and her lawyers have argued she was coerced during a 10-hour interrogation. Another Calusinski attorney, Paul De Luca, asked Nerheim to put the case before the state’s attorney’s new board of review. Nerheim declined. Nerheim formed the review panel shortly after being elected in 2012. The office’s reputation had previously taken a hit after DNA evidence suggested four men convicted of felonies were innocent. Juan Rivera, Jerry Hobbs, Bennie Starks and James Edwards spent about 60 years total behind bars before being exonerated.

The entire story can be found at:


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