Weather Updates

Monday verdict expected in Deerfield man’s murder trial

Daniel Baker 21 Deerfield suspect clubbing death MarinAksman 50 VernHills who was found beaten death inside her home 1848 N.

Daniel Baker, 21, of Deerfield, suspect in the clubbing death of, Marina Aksman, 50, of Vernon Hills, who was found beaten to death inside a her home at 1848 N. Olympic Drive. | Special to Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 39181261
tmspicid: 14559995
fileheaderid: 6646188

Updated: January 2, 2013 1:38AM

The fact that Daniel Baker wound up bludgeoning Marina Aksman to death with an aluminum baseball bat was undisputed by attorneys on both sides as the Deerfield man’s first-degree murder trial concluded Friday.

The question before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes is whether or not Baker is guilty by reason of insanity.

Testimony from several witnesses, a five-hour police interrogation with a confession, dozens of photographs, and hundreds of pages of documents and reports were entered into evidence during the bench trial. Shanes, not a jury, must weigh all the evidence that has been presented. The trial started Oct. 16.

“Cases don’t get much more serious than this. It is the end of the week. I’m going to take time to review this and render a verdict Monday,” Shanes said Friday.

To be found not guilty by reason of insanity, defense attorneys Ed Genson and Blaire Dalton had to prove that Baker, 24, did not “appreciate the criminality of his act” at the time of the murder, meaning he was unable to differentiate between right and wrong.

Prosecutors Stella Veytsel and Ari Fisz described an “enraged” Baker who drove over to the Aksman’s Vernon Hills residence. Baker had a six-to-seven-month relationship with Marina Aksman’s daughter, Kristina, Genson said.

Marina had left Baker a voice mail message where she called him “bipolar” and prohibited Baker from dating her daughter anymore.

“Kristina missed her curfew. That’s when Marina made that call that ultimately cost her her life,” Veytsel said.

Baker had said he kept the black baseball bat with him “for protection,” Genson said. Baker believed Marina’s husband Robert was in the Russian mafia, Genson said.

Baker also believed that Kristina’s family had plans to send her back to Russia to become a prostitute. These beliefs were in Baker’s mind when he grabbed the bat “for protection” before heading to the Aksman residence April 1, 2010, Genson said.

Baker even asked where Robert was as soon as he smashed his way into the Aksman home, Genson said. Baker drove his car into the front of the house and then broke a window to gain entry.

“There’s no evidence he planned to commit murder. What he planned to do was punish somebody. When he got (there), as he was pulverizing this poor woman’s head with a baseball bat, he knew it was wrong,” Fisz said.

Genson argued Baker was in a psychotic state at the time this happened. Psychiatrist Dr. Alexander Obolsky testified for the defense that Baker was experiencing a psychotic state at the time.

A psychiatrist for the state testified Baker was sane.

“Baker had all these traits of mental disorders ... he did not consciously seek to inflict pain ... this is not an evil man devoid of a soul or heart. He was crying when he did it,” Genson said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.