Aron competent to stand trial, Perkins doctors' report says

November 05, 1997|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center have found Ruthann Aron "competent and responsible" to stand trial next month on charges she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband and a Baltimore lawyer.

The report was sent yesterday to Montgomery County Circuit Judge Paul A. McGuckian, prosecutors and the defense team, said Barry H. Helfand, Aron's lawyer.

McGuckian ordered the 60-day psychiatric evaluation to determine if Aron would be able to take part in the trial and assist in her defense. The evaluation was not done to determine whether she was sane at the time of the alleged crimes.

The judge is to hold a hearing this morning to determine where Aron will be held until her Dec. 15 trial. Aron, 55, a Potomac developer and one-time Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has pleaded not criminally responsible to two counts of attempted murder by solicitation.

She was arrested June 9 after police said she dropped off at a Gaithersburg hotel a $500 down payment on the killings of Dr. Barry Aron and Arthur G. Kahn, a lawyer who testified against her in a civil trial. Prosecutors allege she had agreed to pay an undercover police officer posing as a hit man $10,000 for each killing.

Doctors hired by Aron's lawyers conducted a three-week psychiatric evaluation and found her suffering from depression.

Trial lawyers said the Perkins report will do nothing to bolster Aron's insanity defense on the solicitation charges.

"She's going to have a very tough time proving that she was not competent," said Arnold M. Weiner, a Baltimore lawyer.

Aron has pleaded not guilty to three other charges of poisoning ** and attempted poisoning. Prosecutors contend that she tried to kill her husband in April by lacing his chili with powerful prescription drugs. She will stand trial on those charges in January.

Last month, McGuckian refused a defense request to bar from the murder-for-hire trial comments Aron made to a police officer moments after her arrest.

A Montgomery County police detective testified that Aron blurted out "I just cracked," and suggested that police could end her misery by taking her "out back" and shooting her.

"Maybe I just lost it," Detective Edward Tarney quoted Aron as saying. "If I could have the last 24 hours back and I knew I was getting set up, it would be different," he quoted her as saying.

Poisoning food is an offense that carries a maximum 20-year penalty. Attempted poisoning of a person carries a 10-year penalty.

The solicitation of murder charges and the attempted murder charge carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment.

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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