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Woman found guilty of killing toddler in Illinois daycare death

Melissa Calusinski
WBBM/ police photo
Melissa Calusinski
WBBM/ police photo

(CBS/WBBM) WAUKEGAN, Ill. - A former Illinois daycare worker faces a possible life sentence after she was convicted Wednesday in the death of a 16-month-old child left in her care.

After about seven hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Melissa Calusinski, 25, of first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of Benjamin Kingan, reports CBS Chicago.

Prosecutors reportedly said Calusinski threw the boy to the ground on Jan. 14, 2009, after having "issues" with the children in the room.

Despite two videotaped statements to police in which Calusinski admitted to throwing the toddler to the ground, at trial, defense attorney Paul DeLuca said his client never harmed the boy, WBBM reports. The defense claimed the Deerfield boy suffered from a previously undiagnosed brain injury that contributed to his death.

Two pathologists, who testified on behalf of the prosecution, said they saw no signs of prior head trauma, and one said Benjamin would not have been able to throw himself down with enough force to cause the fatal head injury, WBBM reports.

Melissa's father, Paul Calusinski, reportedly said his daughter would appeal the guilty verdict. 

Calusinski could face life in prison when she is sentenced next year.