Palatine man innocent of injuring infant son, but abuse case looms
April 14, 2010
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Staff
An acquittal should have brought Brian Kalinowski's nightmare to an end. Instead, it continues for the 33-year-old Palatine man found not guilty Wednesday of shaking and seriously injuring his infant son.
Kalinowski and his wife, who has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, still face charges they abused and neglected their son, says defense attorney Lawrence Lykowski. This despite a finding of not guilty from Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Etchingham. A spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney confirmed an abuse case against the couple is pending in juvenile court.
"I don't for one moment believe Mr. Kalinowski caused great bodily harm to his child," said Etchingham, who referenced more than a half dozen cases in his ruling.
Kalinowski, his wife and family members greeted the court's decision with tears, copious hugs and repeated expressions of thanks to the court. Still, it offered only a partial victory to Kalinowski, who expressed his happiness and a desire to see his sons through co-defense counsel Frank DiFranco.
"We're very fortunate to have a judge that attuned to the facts and the law," said DiFranco, referencing Etchingham's research on Supreme Court rulings and relevant case law.
Prosecutors say Kalinowski shook and seriously injured the then 3-month-old in late September 2008 while alone with the infant and his twin brother. The baby recovered and suffered no residual effects, which Etchingham noted in his finding. Both boys have been living with relatives since the incident, with supervised visits from their parents.
Prosecutors failed to prove Kalinowski knowingly caused the baby's subdural and retinal hemorrhages, said Etchingham, who called the defendant mild-mannered and credible.
"If anything, the state proved, perhaps, that Brian Kalinowski did not support properly the little head of (his son) after he put him on his shoulder. That is not sufficient evidence to convict," Etchingham said.
While the judge court praised Palatine detectives as hardworking and dedicated, he questioned their decision not to videotape a defendant's statement in a potential death penalty case. Etchingham also questioned the lack of a written statement, either by the defendant or a court reporter, and the decision by police to destroy their notes.
"We are left with the least type of credible statement, an oral statement of what the defendant told authorities," Etchingham said. "It would be unfair to convict without benefit of a videotaped statement, a transcribed statement, written statement or without notes contemporaneous to an oral statement."
To do so "would constitute a miscarriage of justice," he said.
Ultimately, what happened that Sunday afternoon was a tragic accident, not a criminal act, Etchingham said.
"Mr. Kalinowski, go back to being a family," he said, "but be ever so careful in caring for each other."
|False Child Abuse
||Truth in Justice