(CBS) — The story of a toddler transfixed a community. His daycare provider, with a low verbal IQ, confessed to killing the toddler in her care.
In this Original Report, CBS 2’s Brad Edwards speaks to Melissa Calusinski inside prison. She says she didn’t do it and science may back her up.READ MORE: Supt. Brown On Making Improvements Within CPD: 'We Have To Gain The Community's Trust'
“After the years have passed, it’s been just so overwhelming,” says Calusinski .
She was convicted of murdering 16-month-old Ben Kingan.
“I get so sad when I think about him,” she said.
“I’ll never forget that interrogation,” said Calusinski.
In the video of the interrogation, she demonstrated throwing the baby down and told an investigator, “Ok so I got angry and I went boom.”
When asked by Edwards why she did it, Calusinski says, “They were saying those exact words and doing the same hand gestures…what they do to you in there, it’s a nightmare.”
After 79 denials, saying she never disciplined Kingan, Calusinski confessed six hours into the interrogation.
She says she remembers feeling “scared” in the interrogation room.
“The only way for me to get out of there was basically what they wanted,” Calusinski says.READ MORE: This Earth Day, Gov. Pritzker Signs Executive Orders To Keep People's Utilities From Being Cut Off, Move State Government Toward Using Low- Or Zero-Emission Vehicles
She blames herself, saying, “I wish I were stronger.”
Last year, six years after Ben Kingan’s death, the new Lake County Coroner Dr. Tom Rudd discovered X-rays showing no skull fracture and says a previous injury caused his skull to enlarge at an alarming rate. In September 2008, his head size was in the 50th percentile, then the 75th percentile in December 2008 and the day after he died, January 15, 2009, the 95th percentile.
Calusinski says she knew something was wrong, “The minute I called for his name. From a distance he was pale white.”
She insists she never did anything violent and never struck Kingan.
Prosecutors contend Kingan may have had a prior injury, but Calusinski delivered the final blow.
The coroner disagrees. Citing no skull fracture, he changed Ben Kingan’s cause of death from homicide to undetermined.
Calusinski says she hoped to be out of prison by now and misses “everything” about home.
At night in prison, she keeps to herself and prays for her family and cries.
“I do it where no one can see me,” Calusinski said. “Sometimes at night I cry myself to sleep.”
A hearing is scheduled for some time in March. So far, the state’s attorney’s office has fought Calusinski efforts for a new trial. Prosecutor and police decline comment.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Rain On The Way
She’s represented by Kathleen Zellner, a lightning rod, who has successfully helped over-turn numerous murder convictions and is currently also representing Steven Avery, of “Making a Murderer” renown.