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updated: 8/12/2011 7:33 PM

Suspect in Vernon Hills murder likely to contest fitness finding

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  • Daniel Baker

    Daniel Baker


Daniel Baker's defense team said Friday they are "likely" to challenge a psychologist's report saying their client is mentally fit to stand trial in the killing of a Vernon Hills woman.

Baker, 21, of Deerfield, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 1, 2010 beating death of Marina Aksman during a home invasion.

Police said Baker, upset because the victim was trying to end his relationship with her daughter, crashed his car into the Aksman house, rushed inside and beat the 50-year-old woman to death with a baseball bat.

Police said Baker then took the victim's car and his girlfriend, Kristina Aksman, 20, and fled to Montana where he was captured five days later.

In April, defense attorneys Edward Genson of Chicago and Mike Nerheim asked for a psychological exam of their client, telling Circuit Judge Fred Foreman they believed there was "an issue of competence."

On May 14, psychologist Karen Chantry filed a report saying her examination of Baker found he understood the charges against him and was capable of assisting in his own defense.

Genson and Nerheim hired a psychiatrist and psychologist of their own, and said in court Friday they have put Baker through 16 hours of examination.

While Genson said neither professional had sent them a written report on the examinations, conversations he had with both caused him to believe they will challenge Chantry's finding at a hearing.

If Baker is ultimately found unfit for trial, he can be committed to a state mental health hospital for up to a year to see if his mental fitness can be restored.

Both sides of the case are due back in court Sept. 9 to schedule the fitness hearing.

Baker is held without bond in the Lake County jail.