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posted: 8/21/2010 12:01 AM

Vernon Hills murder suspect accused of brawling with guards

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  • Daniel Baker

    Daniel Baker


The suspect in the April 1 murder of a Vernon Hills woman attacked two corrections officers in the Lake County jail and could face additional charges, officials said Friday.

Daniel Baker, 21, who is waiting to learn if prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the murder of Marina Aksman, 50, appeared before Circuit Judge Fred Foreman in the red shirt issued to prisoners in the jail's maximum security section. His arms were manacled to his waist and he escorted to court by two members of the jail's Correction Response Team.

Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Christopher Thompson said Baker was involved in a fight the evening of July 30, when two corrections officers making rounds noticed a pile of tortilla chips outside Baker's cell.

Baker became "upset and restless" when the officers asked him to step out of his cell, Thompson said, so the officers ordered him back into the cell.

Baker began banging his head against the side of the cell, Thompson said, and then started banging his head on the metal frame of his bed.

After Baker ignored several orders to stop, Thompson said, the officers entered the cell and Baker jumped up at them with his fists raised.

One officer was struck in the face, Thompson said, and attempted to use a Taser on Baker but the weapon failed to deploy.

As Baker struggled with the first officer, the second officer drew his Taser and held it against Baker's midsection and fired, Thompson said. Baker responded by kicking the second officer in the head.

Baker was hit by Tasers twice more before other officers arrived at the cell and were able to subdue him, Thompson said.

All three participants in the fray were treated for minor injuries at the jail medical center, Thompson said.

"If an inmate is doing something that could result in self-inflicted injury, it is incumbent on the officers to stop him," Thompson said. "It was clear that inmate Baker was not going to respond to spoken commands, so the officers had to physically restrain him."

Thompson said reports on the scuffle will be sent to the state's attorney's office for consideration of criminal charges against Baker.

Baker is still waiting to learn if Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller will seek the death penalty in the Aksman murder.

Police said Baker beat Aksman to death with a baseball bat in front of her daughter, Kristina Aksman, 20, after Marina Aksman ordered Baker to stop seeing Kristina.

After killing Marina Aksman, Baker took her daughter and her car and fled the area, police said.

Baker and Kristina Aksman were caught five days later in Cut Bank, Mont., near the Canadian border, where police say Baker confessed to the crime.

During the court hearing Friday, Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix received permission to delay the announcement on the death penalty.

The law calls for a decision to be announced 120 days after Baker's May 13 arraignment. Fix said Waller wanted to wait beyond that time to allow defense attorneys to gather more information about Baker's background.

Defense attorney Michael Nerhiem said he and fellow attorney Edward Genson are gathering medical, psychological and educational information about Baker to present to Waller in an effort to convince him not to seek capital punishment in the case.

Foreman scheduled another hearing for Sept. 28.