By Ruth Fuller
Special to the Tribune
1:38 PM EDT, October 15, 2012
Daniel Baker did not want to come to court this morning, when his murder trial was due to start, because he was afraid that his high-powered attorney was a part of the Russian mafia, his mother testified during a fitness hearing which was reopened this morning.
Diane Weber, Baker's mother, testified that she believed her son, who is accused of bludgeoning his girlfriend's mother with a baseball bat in Vernon Hills in 2010, suffered from "delusions" and is "paranoid."
"I've asked him to listen to his attorneys, and he has voiced his opinion that people are getting into their heads to sway their thoughts," Weber said.
After a judge ruled Friday that Baker was mentally fit stand trial, the 24-year-old Deerfield man had threatened to fire his attorneys and represent himself. Today, Judge Daniel Shanes agreed with his attorneys' request to reopen the fitness hearing. But after hearing Weber's testimony, the judge again found Baker fit to stand trial.
"I am sure from counsel's prospective he is far from the ideal client," Shanes said. "But I am also sure that attorneys deal with far more difficult clients."
Baker refused to change into his street clothes from his jail garb this morning and has disagreed with his attorney, Ed Genson, over whether to seek a jury trial or a bench trial, where the judge determines the verdict.
"I would like for a judge to decide my case," Baker told Shanes this morning.
Baker is accused of crashing his car into Marina Aksman's home, beating her to death and then taking off in Aksman's car with her daughter, who at the time was Baker's girlfriend.
They were picked up days later in Montana. In a videotaped interrogation that has been played in court, Baker has said he was "possessed" at the time of the crime.
The trial is expected to get underway Tuesday morning with opening statements and testimony from witnesses for the prosecution.
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