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posted: 4/9/2010 12:01 AM

Prosecutors: Woman killed over daughter's relationship with suspect

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  • Daniel Baker's booking photo after his arrest in Montana Wednesday.

    Daniel Baker's booking photo after his arrest in Montana Wednesday.


Daniel Baker beat Marina Aksman to death with a baseball bat because she tried to end his dating relationship with her daughter, Lake County prosecutors said Thursday.

State's Attorney Michael Waller confirmed earlier reports that tension between the 21-year-old Deerfield man and his girlfriend's mother over his eight-month relationship with Kristina Aksman was the motive in the slaying.

Officials also announced that Kristina Aksman, 20, will not be charged in connection with her mother's death, and is considered a witness in the case.

Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Jeffrey Pavletic said Kristina was in the family home on Olympic Drive when Baker smashed a car registered to his parents into the house and killed Marina Aksman, 50.

Pavletic said there is no indication Kristina was involved in the attack.

"It is our belief that Kristina Aksman had no forewarning of this attack," he said. "We do not believe she was complicit in this homicide in anyway."

Prosecutors said they are not allowed to discuss additional evidence involving her statements to police before Baker's bond hearing. That hearing could be scheduled for as early as this afternoon.

Pavletic said his office will ask that bond be denied for Baker, who is charged with three counts of first degree murder. He is expected to be returned to Lake County today.

Baker fled the area with Kristina Aksman following the murder April 1, and they were captured April 5 near Cut Bank, Montana.

Since then, law enforcement officials and lawyers have been trying to piece together what happened in the Aksman home and in the days leading up to Baker's arrest.

Baker and Kristina Aksman were captured when the Nissan Rogue taken from Aksman house following the murder was clocked going 84 mph in a 70 mph zone on Highway 2, Glacier County Undersheriff Jeff Fauque said.

The couple was stopped after a short chase that involved five squad cars, and both were identified at the scene. Kristina Aksman, who takes medication to control a seizure disorder and suffers from developmental and physical delays, was in the passenger seat, Fauque said, and appeared to be in good health.

She made no comments about being held against her will by Baker, he added.

Fauque said he had no information on where they have been since April 1.

"It really is unclear if the two were living in the woods for the last four days or staying in motels," he said. "But, I'm sure that is something the Lake County Task Force is detailing as we speak."

Fauque said he doesn't know Baker's intended final destination, but assumed they could have been trying to make it into Canada.

"When you get out into the rural areas of Montana, it's going to be a rarity that you might come across someone from law enforcement," he said. "Understand, the state of Montana is enormous, but we only have 2,200 officers statewide."

All evidence and any possessions have been turned over to the Lake County Task Force, he said.

Pavletic said police are retracing the couple's possible route to determine what stops they made along the way.

The official announcement on the arrest was made Wednesday, nearly two days later, and the delay irked Ed Genson, Baker's attorney.

Genson said had the family been told their son was arrested Monday, a lawyer would have been hired to represent Baker in Glacier County, Montana, before police questioning. Police didn't inform the family until about 20 hours later, he added.

"Obviously, they didn't want him to have a lawyer or want the family to know what was going on," he said Thursday. "Sure it irritates me, but what's done is done. There isn't a whole lot I can do about it now."

Waller said notifying the family or a lawyer is not the responsibility of investigators.

"There is no reason for us to contact anyone when a 21-year-old is placed in custody," Waller said. "Vernon Hills police and the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force were investigating the murder of this woman, and they went to Montana to continue the investigation. But, there is no requirement to inform anyone when a 21-year-old is under investigation."

He also said Genson had not informed the state's attorney's office that he is representing Baker until he faxed a letter to Vernon Hills police on Wednesday, two days after Baker's arrest.

"It's our responsibility to follow the rules and take whatever investigative steps necessary to bring the person who committed this vicious murder to justice," Waller added.

Chronology of events

Below is a timeline of information in the Marina Aksman murder case.

April 1

•5 a.m.: Vernon Hills police are called about a suspicious auto parked on the lawn in the 1800 block of Olympic Drive, and discover a dead body in the house.

•Noon: Police announce the victim was Marina Aksman, 50, who was bludgeoned to death in the bedroom of her home.

•4 p.m.: Police announce they are looking for Aksman's 2009 silver Nissan Rogue that was taken from the home that morning.

•4:30 p.m.: Police say they are looking for and want to question Marina Aksman's 20-year-old daughter, Kristina, and her boyfriend, Daniel Baker, 21, of Deerfield. Neither has been heard from since the murder was discovered.

•4:45 p.m.: Law enforcement officials confirm a court ruling from a March 15 hearing granting Marina Aksman guardianship of her daughter, Kristina, because of mental health issues.

April 2

•9 a.m.: Vernon Hills police issue a missing persons report for Kristina Aksman, and announce they are extending their search beyond the Lake County area.

•Noon: Police declare Kristina Aksman as "missing and endangered" to heighten awareness among law enforcement agencies nationwide. Officials say they are concerned about whether she is taking medicine to control a seizure disorder.

•3 p.m.: Police say they are following numerous leads, including a scenario in which Daniel Baker may have had a strained relationship with Marina Aksman over his eight-month dating relationship with Kristina.

April 5

•9 a.m.: Police say they have followed more than 50 anonymous tips from witnesses who claim to have seen Aksman, Baker or the missing Nissan SUV.

•8:30 p.m.: A Glacier County sheriff's deputy attempts to stop a speeding Nissan Rogue outside of Cut Bank, Montana. The driver flees, but is stopped after a brief police chase. Police discover Baker is behind the wheel, and Kristina Aksman is in the passenger seat.

•9 p.m.: Glacier County sheriff's deputies inform the Vernon Hills police the couple is in custody.

April 5, 9 p.m., to April 7, 4 p.m.: Officials from the Vernon Hills Police Department and Lake County Major Crimes Task Force fly to Montana to interview Baker. Misdemeanor and traffic offenses against him are dropped. Baker waives extradition to Illinois.

April 7

•4:30 p.m.: Vernon Hills Police announce Daniel Baker was captured in Montana and is charged with three counts of first degree murder. Kristina Aksman is in "protective custody," and declared a "witness."

8 p.m.: Defense lawyer Ed Genson speaks to Baker for the first time via telephone.

April 8

•Police say they are making arrangements to fly with Baker to Illinois for a bond hearing in Lake County circuit court on Friday or early Saturday morning.