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updated: 10/18/2012 6:26 PM

Witness: Baker's DNA found on handle of murder weapon

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  • Daniel Baker

      Daniel Baker

 

A forensic scientist said Thursday that Daniel Baker's DNA was found on the handle of the baseball bat prosecutors say he used to bludgeon Marina Aksman to death in April 2010.

Kelly Lawrence of the Northern Illinois Crime Lab also said the driver-side air bag, which deployed shortly before the murder when the Deerfield man's car crashed into the front of Aksman's Vernon Hills home, contained DNA from both Baker and his former girlfriend, Kristina Aksman.

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Prosecutors claim Baker, 24, killed Marina Aksman, 50, because she wanted to keep Baker and her daughter apart. His first-degree murder trial before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes began Tuesday. Kristina Aksman has not been charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Kristina Aksman's DNA on the driver side air bag could have been secondary DNA, meaning it was transferred from another source. Baker could have been that source had the couple kissed earlier, Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz said.

The prosecution also attempted to explain why both the driver and passenger air bags deployed.

Lincolnshire Police Detective Adam Hyde, a member of the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team, said both would have deployed in a 2003 Dodge Neon such as Baker's regardless of whether a passenger was in the vehicle. Federal regulations hadn't yet gone into effect requiring passenger seats to have detection sensors.

Hyde also described the damage to the Neon as minimal, saying the air bags deployed only because a tire axle was damaged. He estimated the car was traveling no more than 30 mph when it crashed.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Ed Genson said Baker crashed the vehicle in an attempt to kill himself.

Shanes also heard testimony Thursday from Jason Sullivan, one of the officers in Montana who apprehended Baker to end a four-day, nationwide manhunt for him and Kristina Aksman.

Sullivan said Baker appeared slow and confused and his eyes were dilated. He didn't acknowledge officers until they opened his door and unbuckled his seat belt for him. A strong scent of gasoline was detected in his vehicle, but a blood test later showed he wasn't under the influence of any sort of huffing agent.

On Friday, prosecutors are expected to show the end of a police video of their interview with Baker. It took place April 6, 2010, the day after he was captured with Kristina Aksman.

In the five-hour recording, Baker confessed to members of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force that he hit Marina Aksman with a bat at least twice.

Defense attorneys motioned earlier this year to suppress the tape, saying Baker was under duress and should have had a lawyer present. In June, a judge said it would be allowed.

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