In a reversal of course, defense attorneys for the man accused of killing a Vernon Hills woman said Friday they believe their client is mentally fit to stand trial.
Defense attorney Edward Genson, of Chicago, told Lake County Circuit Judge Fred Foreman that a psychologist and a psychiatrist who have examined Daniel Baker, 23, agree with a court-appointed psychologist who said in May that Baker was fit for trial.
Genson and fellow defense attorney Michael Nerheim of Chicago said April 8 that they did not believe their client was able to understand the charges against him, understood how the court system operates or was capable of assisting in his own defense.
The attorneys then recruited specialists of their own to examine Baker, and although Genson said Friday those experts concur with the initial evaluation of Baker, he plans to have further psychological and psychiatric assessments of his client made.
Baker is charged with first-degree murder in the April 1, 2010 death of Marina Aksman, 50, who police said was beaten to death with a baseball bat after Baker invaded her home. Police said Baker was enraged that Aksman was trying to end his relationship with her 21-year-old daughter, Kristina Aksman, and that he fled the state with the daughter after killing her mother.
Baker was captured five days later in northern Montana. Detectives from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force say Baker confessed to the murder during an interview in a jail there.
Genson told Foreman on Friday that Baker's defense team will be filing a motion to bar that confession from being used against their client at a trial which has yet to be scheduled.
Genson said he would be able to prepare and file the motion by Sept. 19 and told Foreman he believed a hearing of the motion would stretch across several days because it will involve several witnesses, including some from Montana.
Foreman said he would schedule the hearing for the afternoons of Nov. 15-17, and would allow more time for the proceedings if attorneys believed it was necessary.
Baker faces up to life in prison if convicted of the crime and is being held without bail in the Lake County jail.