(Update: Saturday, 12:30 a.m.) In an unusual legal move, Lake County Criminal Court Judge Daniel Shanes delayed Tuesday start of the murder trial of Daniel Baker of Deerfield in an effort to determine whether the defendant is fit to stand trial, according to a breaking story in the Daily Herald.
Shanes indicated today he may call Baker to testify at a special hearing Friday to determine if he is mentally competent to understand the charges against him when the trial begins, according to a story in the Lake County News Sun. The ruling came after lawyers for the prosecution and defense called dueling psychiatrists with different conclusions.
“I am considering calling the defendant to testify,” Shanes said in the News Sun article. “This is a fundamental issue of Constitutional privilege ... it is certainly not commonplace for the parties ... to call a defendant charged with murder to testify in a fitness hearing.”
Between now and Friday, Shanes has asked Assistant Lake County State’s Attorneys Patricia Fix and Ari Fisz as well as defense lawyer Ed Gensen to research the issue of whether Baker’s Fifth Amendment Constitutional right against self incrimination will be infringed, according to the Daily Herald.
(Earlier: Friday, 11:11 p.m.) With the murder trial of a Deerfield man accused of bludgeoning the Vernon Hills mother of his then girl friend set to begin Tuesday, defense attorneys were busy this week trying to suppress evidence and delay the trial, according to earlier articles in the Lake County News Sun and Daily Herald.
Daniel Baker of Deerfield is accused of killing Marina Aksman of Vernon Hills more than two years ago and fleeing to Montana with Aksman’ daughter before he was apprehended and returned to Lake County, according to Patch.
A second attempt by defense attorney Ed Gensen to disallow Baker’s videotaped confession was denied by Lake County Criminal Court Judge Fred Foreman, according to the News Sun earlier. At the time, Baker said he would be more comfortable with an attorney present but still spoke to police. Gensen told Foreman he would likely appeal the ruling.
After Foreman’s decision, Gensen went before Judge Daniel Shanes asking to delay the trial because of Baker’s mental fitness. According to the earlier Daily Herald report, Baker was visited by a psychologist in Lake County Jail who said the defendant needed medicine to understand the charges against him.
“The medication will help him in regards to understanding this case,” Genson told Shanes in the earlier Daily Herald story. “The difficulty with him is that he is good sometimes, but bad others.”