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updated: 9/23/2011 8:37 PM

Defense tries to stop confession in Vernon Hills murder

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  • Daniel Baker is a person of interest in the April 1, 2010 death of Vernon Hills resident Marina Aksman.

    Daniel Baker is a person of interest in the April 1, 2010 death of Vernon Hills resident Marina Aksman.


Police interrogated a "deranged" Daniel Baker when they questioned him about the murder of a Vernon Hills woman in her own home, defense attorneys claim in a motion filed in Lake County Court.

Baker's attorneys Edward Genson of Chicago and Michael Nerheim of Waukegan are seeking to prevent a confession detectives say Baker gave them in Cut Bank, Mont., from being used against him during a trial. The attorneys have indicated they may argue Baker was insane at the time of the murder.

Baker, 23, of Deerfield, faces up to life in prison if convicted of the April 1, 2010 murder 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 the couple was found five days after the slaying in northern Montana

In a motion filed this week, the lawyers claim Baker told a Glacier County, Mont., officer that he did not want to answer questions about the murder and repeated that wish to detectives from the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force who arrived in Montana to question him the day after Baker's arrest.

Nonetheless, the motion claims, detectives questioned Baker for 4 hours, despite what the motion calls evidence of Baker's deteriorating mental state.

"Baker said that his mind was breaking down; that he was fearful because he could not remember anything; that he heard voices; that he thought he had schizophrenia; that the world felt like Nazi Germany; that he was suicidal and that he believed he was the Messiah," the motion states.

"The officers catered to Baker's deranged mental state and did not cease interrogation," it continues.

The Montana police officer who stopped Baker while he was driving the murder victim's car noted Baker "had dilated eyes, was confused and was unresponsive upon being placed into custody," according to the motion.

That officer's report says he believed Baker had been inhaling chemical vapors before his arrest.

The motion also claims the detectives "made numerous promises and inducements" to Baker in an effort to get him to confess.

At a bond hearing following Baker's arrest, prosecutors said Baker called the Aksman home as he drove there from his home in Deerfield and left a threatening message on the telephone answering machine.

Baker then smashed his car into the front of the Aksman house, got out of the car with an aluminum baseball bat and smashed his way through a glass door at the rear of the house.

He confronted Marina Aksman in the first-floor master bedroom, officials said, and beat her to death with the bat while her daughter watched.

Kristina Aksman has not been charged with a crime in connection with the case and is considered a witness.

Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix declined to comment on the motion other than to say she will oppose it in court.

Circuit Judge Fred Foreman has scheduled a hearing on the motion for Nov. 15.

Baker is held without bail in the Lake County jail.