LAKE COUNTY, Ill. -- A Lake County judge has denied a request for a new trial by a former suburban Chicago day care worker
Lawyers for Melissa Calusinski say a set of X-rays of Benjamin Kingan found in the Lake County coroner’s office were withheld from them before her trial. They say the X-rays show the 16-month-old month-old died not from a skull fracture caused by Calusinski, but from a prior injury.
“48 Hours” investigated the case in the episode, “Blaming Melissa.”
Prosecutors have said the X-ray evidence cited by the defense is actually old evidence Calusinski’s attorneys had electronically enhanced, reports CBS Chicago.
The most damning evidence against Calusinski was her confession that she tossed the child to the floor, given after six hours of interrogation and nearly 80 denials, the station reports. Calusinski, who has a low verbal IQ, said detectives broke her down and she only told them what she thought they wanted to hear. She is now 29.
Last July, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd changed the official cause of the child’s death from “homicide” to “undetermined,” saying the X-rays proved Benjamin had a pre-existing head injury, reports CBS Chicago.
Judge Daniel Shanes ruled Friday there was enough testimony at trial to convict Calusinski. He upheld her conviction and denied her bid for a new trial. Shanes presided at Calusinski’s 2011 trial and sentenced her to 31 years in prison.
Calusinski’s attorneys said they plan to appeal the judge’s ruling. Her lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, tweeted that she expected the denial from the trial judge and believes it will be overturned on appeal.