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updated: 2/29/2012 11:55 AM

Attorneys try to block confession in Vernon Hills slaying

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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.

 
 

The first law enforcement officials to come in contact with Daniel Baker after his arrest in Montana said Tuesday that Baker was "in something of a confused state" and "spacey."

Baker, 23, of Deerfield, is charged with killing Marina Aksman, 50, by beating her to death with a baseball bat inside her Vernon Hills home on April 1, 2010.

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A hearing began Tuesday in Lake County circuit court on a motion to bar prosecutors from using any statements Baker may have made to police about the crime during a trial of the case.

Police said Baker believed the victim was trying to end his relationship with her daughter, Kristina Aksman, so he stole the victim's car after the murder and fled with Kristina in the passenger seat.

Five days later, Deputy Jason Sullivan was about three hours into his shift with the Glacier County sheriff's police when the Aksman Nissan Rogue roared past him at 84 mph in a 70 mph zone.

It would eventually take Sullivan and four other officers to stop the vehicle and get Baker out of the car. Sullivan testified Tuesday that a strong smell of gasoline coming from inside the Nissan first suggested to him that Baker may have been inhaling chemical vapors.

Sullivan said his observations of Baker outside the car reinforced his initial assumption.

"His (Baker's) eyes were dilated, he was in something of a confused state," Sullivan said. "His slow moving and slow speaking led me to believe he was under the influence of something."

Defense attorneys Edward Genson and Blaire Dalton claim in their motion that police capitalized on Baker's state of mind in order to extract a confession to the crime. The day after his arrest, Baker gave a confession to Lake County detectives sent to Montana to question him.

The defense team claims police ignored Baker's request to speak to an attorney and questioned him despite being informed by Baker that he did not want to answer questions.

Sullivan testified that Baker told him he did not want to answer any questions as he was reading Baker his rights, and he immediately stopped reading him the rights.

Under questioning by Dalton, Sullivan said he broke off his conversation with Baker about rights before Baker was informed he did have the right to talk to an attorney.

Jody Hickey is a radio dispatcher for several emergency service agencies in Cut Bank, Mont., and saw Baker and Kristina Aksman when they were brought into the sheriff's office after the arrest.

Hickey testified that Baker and Aksman, who was never charged with a crime in connection with her mother's death, were held separately inside the station booking room.

Hickey said Baker asked her, without being prompted, if a ring Aksman had with her was secure and she told him it would be with the rest of her property police had confiscated.

Baker appeared to be acting strangely to her as well, Hickey said.

"He knew what was happening but did not seem present," she said. "He was acting spacey."

Baker, who is held without bond in Lake County jail, faces up to life in prison if convicted in the case.

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