December trial set for Aron on charges of soliciting slaying She is accused of paying to have her husband killed

October 09, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Montgomery County circuit judge ruled yesterday that former U.S. Senate candidate Ruthann Aron will be tried in December on charges that she paid $500 to have her husband killed after he told her he wanted a divorce.

Judge Paul A. McGuckian scheduled the trial for Dec. 15 on two counts of attempted murder by solicitation. He also tentatively scheduled a Dec. 29 trial for Aron, a developer and lawyer, on charges that she tried to murder her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, by poisoning him.

"It makes no sense to go forward with the poisoning case first," McGuckian said after a 90-minute hearing.

McGuckian had postponed the murder-solicitation trial, originally scheduled for Oct. 27, because psychiatrists at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center would not have completed their evaluation by then. Prosecutors said the evaluation is expected early next month.

Aron, 54, of Potomac has pleaded not criminally responsible to charges that she made a $500 down payment to a hit man to kill Dr. Aron and Arthur G. Kahn, a Baltimore lawyer who once testified against Aron in a civil case.

Aron, a Republican who ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, also has pleaded not guilty to charges that she tried to kill her husband April 25 by spiking a bowl of homemade chili with prescription drugs.

Aron was arrested June 9 after allegedly dropping off the down payment on the killing at a Gaithersburg hotel. Prosecutors say she had agreed to pay $10,000 for each killing. After her arrest, she was charged with trying to poison her husband.

Aron, who was released from Perkins to her lawyer's custody for yesterday's hearing, looked haggard. She wrung a towel in her hands and rocked in her seat as she listened to the lawyers.

Prosecutors asked McGuckian to hold the trial on the two counts of solicitation to commit murder first. They also asked for a ruling that would permit them to use evidence from that case at a subsequent trial on the charge of attempted murder by poisoning.

Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell said yesterday that the state needed evidence from the murder-solicitation case in the poisoning case to prove Aron's intent to kill. He said that would show she wanted her husband dead, not just sick so that she could nurse him back to health and save their marriage.

"The question we are left with is, 'Did she intend for him to die?' " Campbell said. "The jury's entitled to hear all the evidence in deciding."

Lawyers for Aron said it would be unfair to use evidence from the murder-solicitation case against her when she is tried on the poisoning charge.

"All the intent in the world is not going to help the state prove poisoning. There is no poisoning," said Judith R. Catterton, one of Aron's lawyers.

Barry Helfand, another Aron lawyer, said the state's poisoning case is based solely on prescription medicine police found in Aron's coat pocket in June, several weeks after the alleged poisoning attempt.

If jurors in the poisoning case heard testimony that Aron solicited an undercover police officer to kill her husband and Kahn, Helfand said, they would convict her based on that alone.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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