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Judge denies new trial for Baker

Daniel Baker was found guilty but mentally ill beating death his girlfriend's mother. | Special Sun-Times Media

Daniel Baker was found guilty but mentally ill in the beating death of his girlfriend's mother. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 26, 2013 2:07AM

A request for a new trial for the Deerfield man convicted of bludgeoning a Vernon Hills woman to death was denied at a hearing Monday.

“Based upon the evidence in this case, the defense counsel in this case left no stone unturned. The defense was full, vigorous and complete. There is nothing in the record to indicate this defense could have done differently,” Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes said of the trial of Daniel Baker.

“As of today (Monday), (there is) nothing that would cause the court to disturb its prior judgment,” said Shanes, who convicted Baker, 24, of first-degree murder on Nov. 5. Baker had waived his right to a jury trial so that Shanes would decide the case.

A sentencing date for Jan. 9 was scheduled. Baker faces 20 years to life in prison.

Defense attorneys Ed Genson and Blaire Dalton unsuccessfully sought a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. Shanes found Baker guilty, but mentally ill when he beat Vernon Hills woman Marina Aksman to death with a baseball bat on April 1, 2010. Prosecutors said he murdered the mother of his girlfriend after Marina tried to split them up.

After his motion was denied, Genson once again raised the issue of his client’s mental ability to stand trial.

“I believe he still is and continues to be incompetent,” Genson said.

A hearing addressing the Deerfield man’s ability to understand the charges against him and cooperate with his attorneys was heard Oct. 16, before Baker’s trial started. Shanes found Baker mentally fit to stand trial.

Baker’s mental state was a central issue during the trial. To be legally insane, Baker would have had to have a mental disorder that disabled his ability to understand right from wrong.

Shane’s finding of guilty, but mentally ill, means that he found Baker had a substantial mental disorder that impaired his judgment the day of the murder that did not rise to the level of insanity.

Psychiatrists who testified at the trial diagnosed Baker with borderline personality, obsessive-complusive disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome.

He is being held at Lake County Jail without bond.

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