Aron released from jail on $25,000 bail Ex-Senate candidate to live with woman she met at hospital

November 06, 1997|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Dan Fesperman contributed to this article.

For the first time since her June 9 arrest on charges she tried to have her husband and another man killed, Ruth-ann Aron is free on bail.

A Montgomery County circuit judge renewed Aron's $25,000 bond yesterday and allowed her to move into the home of a Silver Spring woman she met during a hospital stay for treatment of depression.

But Judge Paul A. McGuckian added a condition to the terms of her release: Aron's whereabouts will be monitored electronically by a home-detention service.

The Potomac developer and former U.S. Senate candidate has been held at the Montgomery County jail, a secure psychiatric ward at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

An hour after the ruling, Aron, 55, walked from the Rockville courthouse accompanied by her lawyers and Phyllis A. Book, the woman who offered to house Aron until her Dec. 15 trial.

Aron -- in an oatmeal-colored cardigan, baggy tan slacks and white leather athletic shoes -- looked straight ahead and mouthed "no" when asked whether she had any comment.

Book also declined to comment.

One of Aron's lawyers, Barry H. Helfand, described Book, 49, as an IBM executive who "is doing this because she's a friend who's helping a friend in need." He would not say whether Book, too, was a patient at Suburban when the women met.

Of his client, Helfand said, "Basically, she's allowed to go where she wants to go. She tells someone where she is going and she goes there. She comes and goes, and she'll be there for trial."

McGuckian's decision came over protests from Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell Jr., who objected to allowing Aron to live in "an unmonitored" setting "with people about whom we know nothing at all."

Campbell argued that Aron would be better off in a hospital because of the threat she posed to herself and the men she is accused of plotting to have killed. Aron was placed on suicide watch after her arrest and was diagnosed at Suburban Hospital as suffering from severe depression.

Campbell also noted that two handguns owned by Aron have not been found, and that police searches of her car and home turned up disguises and materials to produce phony identification.

"We think there is, in this case, a risk of flight," said Campbell.

But Dr. Lawrence Kline, who had been treating Aron at Suburban, disputed Campbell's characterization and told McGuckian his patient was not a risk.

Aron has pleaded not criminally responsible to two counts of solicitation to commit the murders of Dr. Barry Aron and Arthur G. Kahn, a Baltimore lawyer who testified against her in a slander suit. Prosecutors say she tried to hire a hit man for $10,000 for each killing, and left a $500 down payment at a Gaithersburg motel.

She has pleaded not guilty to three counts of trying to poison her husband by lacing his chili with powerful prescription drugs. That trial will be held in January.

Doctors at Perkins conducted a court-ordered 60-day evaluation of Aron and filed a report Tuesday that found her to be "competent and responsible" to stand trial.

After yesterday's hearing, Helfand scoffed at the prosecution's portrayal of his client.

"If she wanted to, she could have walked out of Suburban Hospital, but she chose not to," he said. "They're worried about shooting? This woman is a skeet shooter; she could have shot them before."

He said Aron will go to Suburban for treatment, perhaps five days a week and six hours a day, and will spend the bulk of her free time helping prepare her defense.

Stephen A. Friedman, a lawyer for Aron's husband, said his client was "encouraged" that his wife "is apparently getting treatment from a good psychiatrist. He's hopeful she's going to be able to turn her life around and move on."

Asked whether Dr. Aron was concerned about her release, Friedman said, "He said, 'I don't live in fear, and I'm not going to live in fear. I have no intention of changing my routine.' "

Book's home is in a quiet neighborhood just outside the Capital Beltway. The two-story, brick-front house on Meadowneck Court sits back from a cul-de-sac.

Sheldon Rutter, who lives next door, said neighbors tend to keep to themselves, and he knew little about Book. Looking at the television trucks on the street last night, he said he was more concerned about too much media attention than danger from Aron.

"I'm sure that if she were really a danger to anyone other than her husband, then they wouldn't have let her out."

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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