Aron's trial postponed in murder-for-hire case

December 10, 1997|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

A Montgomery County circuit judge has granted a request from Ruthann Aron's lawyers and postponed her murder-for-hire trial until Feb. 25.

The jury trial, which was to begin Monday, was delayed after Aron's lawyers told Judge Paul A. McGuckian that they needed more time to prepare her defense.

McGuckian approved a request from prosecutors this month to hold a two-phase trial, one to determine Aron's guilt or innocence and another to determine her sanity.

Aron, 55, has pleaded not criminally responsible to two counts of solicitation to commit murder. She is accused of planning the killings of her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, and Arthur G. Kahn, a Baltimore lawyer who testified against her in a slander suit.

Prosecutors say they have tape-recorded conversations between Aron, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 1994, and the undercover police officer she allegedly tried to hire for $10,000 for each killing. She was arrested June 9 after allegedly leaving a $500 down payment at a Gaithersburg motel.

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

The lead lawyer of Aron's defense team, Barry H. Helfand, said new tests would not be completed by Monday.

Her lawyers also were concerned that a two-phase trial during the holidays would complicate jury selection.

Aron has pleaded not guilty to three counts of trying to poison her husband by lacing his chili with prescription drugs. That trial will be postponed until the murder-for-hire trial has concluded.

Aron is free on $25,000 bond and is living under home detention at a friend's Silver Spring home.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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