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Baker’s mental fitness again brought into question

Daniel Baker

Daniel Baker

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Updated: October 22, 2012 6:18AM

The mental health of the Deerfield man accused of taking a baseball bat to his girlfriend’s mother’s head continues to take center stage as his case unfolds in the court system.

Daniel Baker’s defense attorney Ed Genson told Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes at a hearing Thursday that he felt “compelled” to bring Baker’s mental competency into question.

Genson affirmed Thursday to Shanes that he intends to pursue the insanity defense for his client, meaning that Baker was incapable of knowing right from wrong when he bludgeoned Marina Aksman, 50, to death in her Vernon Hills home April 1, 2010.

“Yes, (I’ll be using the insanity defense) in addition to the suggestion he didn’t commit the crime. I know that’s a hard combination,” Genson said.

Genson voiced concerns to Shanes that his client was not mentally fit to stand trial. Mental fitness has to do with a defendant’s ability to understand the charges against him.

Baker had “some problems” understanding why the prosecutors put their case on first during the trial, Genson said. He also said that Baker wanted a bench trial instead of a jury trial. In a bench trial, a judge hears the evidence and makes a guilty or not guilty finding instead of a jury.

“I have a very difficult time getting his cooperation. I’d really like to have him examined,” Genson said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Patricia Fix listed five mental health experts that the defense has enlisted to evaluate Baker. Fix also pointed out that Baker’s mental fitness came up in 2011. At that time, Genson stipulated to court psychologist Karen Chantry’s report that Baker was mentally fit for trial.

“We have had no evidence that Baker’s personality changed ... the people see no issues.” Fix said after Thursday’s hearing.

Shanes said it would be “prudent” to have mental health experts evaluate Baker for the fitness issue between now and Oct. 5. If a hearing needs to be held to discuss Baker’s mental fitness to stand trial, it will be held Oct. 5, Shanes said.

Genson also asked for a trial continuance from the Oct. 9 trial date at Thursday’s hearing. He cited scheduling difficulties with other cases in other counties as a problem.

“Trials are fluid things,” Shanes said. “If we don’t try on Oct. 9, we may not try this case this year.”

The case has been pending for two and a half years, Fix pointed out.

“It is time for this case to go to trial. The victims deserve for this case to be tried,” Fix argued.

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