By Ruth Fuller
Special to the Tribune
2:41 PM EDT, October 12, 2012
After a judge today found Daniel Baker fit to stand trial in the beating death of his girlfriend’s mother, Baker said he wants to get rid of his attorneys and represent himself when his trial is due to start Monday.
Baker is accused of killing Marina Aksman on April 1, 2010, with a baseball bat in her Vernon Hills home, then fleeing in her car with her daughter, his then-girlfriend, Kristina Aksman. His attorney Ed Genson has said he plans to mount an insanity defense. He has argued that Baker is unfit to stand trial.
The 24-year-old Deerfield man spent much of the conclusion of a mental fitness hearing that began last Friday whispering in the ears of his attorneys, Genson and Blaire Dalton. Genson has argued that Baker was unfit to stand trial.
Genson said Baker has "an inability to cooperate with his attorneys" and has argued with them over issues such as whether his verdict would be determined by a jury or judge.
Baker himself told the judge he doesn't want a jury trial. “Why select citizens who may be swayed by the prosecution being very manipulative?” he said.
Last Friday, a mental health expert for the defense testified that Baker was not fit to stand trial, while a mental health expert for the prosecution testified that he was fit.
Assistant State’s Attorney Patricia Fix said that Baker was also found fit to stand trial by a court-appointed psychologist in September 2011.
Judge Daniels Shanes apparently agreed with the prosecution’s experts.
“I find him to be an intelligent young man who has always behaved appropriately in court,” he said.
Shanes later admonished Baker, however, for his constant whispering in his attorneys’ ears.
“It is good that you are helping your attorneys, but there can be too much of a good thing,” he said.
As for his desire to represent himself, Shanes told Baker he should think about that decision seriously and give him his decision on Monday before the trial begins.
“You didn’t go to law school, did you?” Shanes asked.
“No, sir. I did study for a week in here,” Baker replied.
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