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updated: 4/8/2011 11:50 AM

Defense questions Deerfield man's mental status in murder trial

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  • Daniel Baker

      Daniel Baker

 
 

Defense attorneys for a Deerfield man accused of murdering his girlfriend's mother said Friday their client may be mentally unfit to stand trial.

Daniel Baker, 21, is charged with the April 1, 2010 beating death of Marina Aksman, 50, after police say Baker invaded Aksman's Vernon Hills home.

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Edward Genson of Chicago and Michael Nerhiem of Waukegan asked Lake County Circuit Judge Fred Foreman to order a psychological evaluation of their client because of what Genson called "an issue of competence" on the part of Baker.

Baker stood with his eyes closed and his head cocked backward during most of the brief hearing before Foreman, and Genson said his client "was not feeling well."

Foreman told the attorneys "it would appear that the defendant is having some issues today," and ordered him examined by a court-appointed psychologist.

According to state law, the evaluation must determine if Baker is capable of understanding the charges against him and how the court system operates, and be capable of assisting in his own defense.

Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix said if the evaluation determines Baker is fit, the defense can request to have him examined by their own expert for a second opinion.

Prosecutors can ask for a second opinion if the initial finding is Baker is not fit, Fix said, and a hearing can be held in either case to make a final determination.

Fix said she would not comment directly on the status of Baker's fitness, but did say "The defendant's appearance today was not consistent with his appearance in court I have seen at prior appearances."

Police say Baker crashed his car into Askman's house during the early morning hours of the day of the murder, then charged inside with a baseball bat.

Enraged over Marina Aksman's efforts to end the dating relationship between Baker and her daughter, Kristina Aksman, Baker beat the elder woman to death with the bat, police said.

Police said Baker then took Kristina Aksman and her mother's car and fled to Cut Bank, Mont., where he was captured five days later.

Foreman ordered a report on Baker's evaluation be filed with the court by May 17.

Baker, who is held without bond, faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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