Melissa Calusinski wins court victory as she seeks to overturn conviction

CHICAGO -- There was a victory in court Monday for a young woman who was convicted of killing a toddler at a day care center. Melissa Calusinski has repeatedly denied she slammed the child to the floor. This summer, the Lake County Coroner discovered new X-ray evidence that he believes backs up her claim of innocence.

There were tears from Calusinski's family after a judge ruled Lake County prosecutors need to answer new evidence that could overturn her murder conviction.

Calusinkski was found guilty in the 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, but this summer Lake County's new coroner discovered evidence that had not been submitted during her trial.

"There was an X-ray showing there was no skull fracture," says Kathleen Zellner, the Caluskinski family's attorney. "The skull fracture was mentioned over 32 times by the prosecution in their case before the jry. There is no skull fracture."

In July, Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd called for Calusinski's release in light of the new evidence.

"Melissa needs to be released and the State's Attorney needs to do his duty," he said at the time.

Zellner says there is even more reason to release her client, citing the trial testimony of the former county coroner.

"We have the state pathologist affidavit saying he told the jury inaccurate information," she says. "That is pretty huge."

Paul Calusinski, Melissa's father, who has insisted on his daughter innocence for the past six years, can't wait to tell her the news.

"My daughter is gonna be ecstatic," he says.

However, the family also says little Benjamin Kingan should not be forgotten.

"Once my daughter is free they need to continue to look into Ben's case because something happened to the child," Paul says. "My daughter had no part in it."

The next step will be a Dec. 18 court date, when prosecutors must respond and Calusinski's lawyer will submit the new x-ray evidence.