Melissa Calusinski, daycare worker convicted of toddler's murder, pleads case at clemency hearing

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Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Clemency hearing held for daycare worker convicted of toddler's murder
Melissa Calusinski, the Lincolnshire daycare worker convicted in 2009 2009 of murdering Benjamin Kingan, pled her clemency case to the parole board Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Melissa Calusinski, the daycare worker who was convicted of murder in the 2009 death of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, made her case for clemency at a parole board hearing Tuesday.

Her father, Paul Calusinski, said he has always believed his daughter of innocent of the murder that sent her to prison 16 years ago.

"Melissa had nothing absolutely to do with Ben's death," he said.

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Prosecutors said the former Lincolnshire daycare worker threw the boy to the ground, causing a fatal head injury, and said she made a videotaped confession. She was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Calusinski, however, claimed the confession was coerced and her attorneys have long-claimed X-ray evidence indicates the boy had a previous injury that may have led to his death. They presented a several-hundred-page clemency petition at Tuesday's hearing.

"We know and she knows the truth is coming out, and we can all see a light at the end of the tunnel," her father said.

Friends and supporters have followed the case for years and have a Facebook page to communicate developments.

The Lake County State's Attorney, who prosecuted the case, filed an objection to the clemency petition. The office released a statement, saying in part, "We are open to evidence at any time. In regards to Melisssa Calusinski, no such new evidence has been presented to our convocation integrity unit or in this clemency process."

Calusinski and the family's attorney believe otherwise.

"We believe Governor Pritzker is going to do the right thing with as much new evidence as we have here," Paul Calusinski said.

The parole board has no timeline for when they need to submit their recommendations to the governor, but Paul Calusinski remains hopeful.