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Lawyers Clash as Baker Trial Opens

Defense claims Deerfield man did not know what he was doing when he beat a Vernon Hills woman to death. Prosecutors offer evidence of intent.

Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers disagree Daniel Baker bludgeoned Marina Aksman of Vernon Hills to death with a baseball bat over two years ago or has mental health issues, but evidence they present on the legal definition of insanity may well determine the Deerfield man’s fate, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune. Opening arguments were Tuesday.

Defense attorneys led by Ed Genson argued a “tragic, perfect storm” of events culminated in Baker not realizing his attack of Aksman was wrong, according to reports in the Daily Herald. Genson said he would prove Baker did not appreciate the criminality of his actions.

Assistant Lake County State’s Attorney Patricia Fix claims Baker knew what he was doing because Aksman was trying to end a relationship between the Deerfield man and her daughter, Kristina, according to the Daily Herald. “Now it’s over,” Baker said, according to Fix describing a message Baker left Aksman in the Daily Herald. “You don’t mess with Daniel Baker.”

Shortly after leaving the message, Fix told the court how Baker broke into Aksman’s Vernon Hills home, according to a Deerfield Review report. A police officer described the scene. “There was blood all over the bed, walls and ceiling,” Jeff Ferdina, a police evidence technician who investigated the crime scene, said in the Deerfield Review.

Genson countered by explaining Baker was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses as a child, was put on psychotropic medication and discarded it at 14 because of the side effects, according to the Tribune.

Baker was “paranoid” and heard nonexistent voices causing him to think Aksman’s father wanted to harm him, according to the Deerfield Review’s recap of Genson’s argument. Baker brought the bat to the Aksman home for his own protection, according to Genson.

After the attack, Baker and Kristina left on a road trip and were apprehended for speeding in Montana six days later. He was arrested and returned to Illinois where he has been in the Lake County Jail since, according to stories published on Patch.

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