By Ruth Fuller
Special to the Tribune
3:02 PM CST, February 5, 2013
For the second time since being found guilty in November of beating his girlfriend’s mother to death in Vernon Hills, Daniel Baker’s sentencing has been delayed.
Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes ordered that Baker undergo a mental health fitness evaluation after his attorney, Ed Genson, filed a psychiatric report stating that Baker was not mentally fit. Genson is also seeking a new hearing on Baker’s mental competency.
In January the sentencing was postponed when Baker requested a new trial based on his claim that his now-former girlfriend was responsible for the crime.
Baker, 24, of Deerfield, faces 20 years to life in prison in Marina Aksman’s death, and prosecutors had previously said they would seek a life sentence. Baker, whose physical appearance has changed at almost every court hearing, had a full head of hair and a long beard and mustache today.
Authorities have said that Baker, enraged that Aksman had told him to stop seeing her daughter, crashed his car into her house, beat her to death and then fled with Kristina Aksman in April 2010. They were picked up in Montana several days later. Kristina Aksman, who was 20 at the time, has been described by authorities as having cognitive impairments.
Dave Neal, of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s office, who has been brought in to represent the state in the case, said he agreed that there should be a fitness hearing.
“I’m not finding a bona fide doubt as to fitness,” Shanes said. “It can’t hurt to have another opinion.”
A court-appointed mental health expert will evaluate Baker and both sides are expected to meet back in court for a status report on March 20.
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