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No. 6 of 2012: Daniel Baker found guilty, but mentally ill, of murder

Daniel Baker 21 Deerfield arrested connectiwith murder MarinAksman 50 VernHills. | Special Sun-Times Media

Daniel Baker, 21, of Deerfield, arrested in connection with the murder of Marina Aksman, 50, of Vernon Hills. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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The Deerfield man convicted of bludgeoning his girlfriend’s mother to death with an aluminum baseball bat made several court appearances in 2012.

Daniel Baker, 24, was found guilty of first-degree murder, but mentally ill by Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes in November. That means mental issues impaired his judgement when he killed Marina Aksman in her Vernon Hills home April 1, 2010, but did not prevent him from knowing right from wrong. His attorneys Ed Genson and Blaire Dalton sought a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict. Insanity means a person is too mentally ill to understand right from wrong at the time of the offense.

Several of Baker’s court appearances had to do with his mental issues. Genson and Dalton unsuccessfully sought a new trial for their client in late November. Genson said he still believed Baker was not mentally fit to stand trial, meaning that Baker was unable to understand the charges against him, the court process and unable to cooperate with his attorneys.

Genson called Baker his “most difficult” client.

Baker also underwent a mental fitness hearing in October, shortly before his trial started. Two psychiatrists testified at the fitness hearing (and at the trial) about Baker’s mental difficulties. Both experts, one for the state and one for the defense, said Baker had a variety of mental disorders.

Shanes ultimately found Baker mentally fit for trial.

In June, Shanes ruled that Baker’s recorded video confession and murder re-enactment could be presented as evidence at trial. (It was part of the evidence prosecutors presented.) Baker fled with his girlfriend Kristina Aksman after he murdered her mother in April 2010. He was caught speeding in Glacier County, Montana, a few days later. He gave Lake County Major Crimes Task Force detectives a confession and re-enacted the crime for them.

Baker is due for sentencing Jan. 9, facing a range of 20 years to life.

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