Brain damage impairs Aron's judgment, two doctors testify

March 11, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Ruthann Aron has brain damage and was unable to make sound judgments, said two doctors who saw her weeks after her arrest in June.

Dr. Lawrence Kline testified yesterday that Aron, 55, has a "subtle abnormality" in her brain that could cause paranoia, impulsive behavior and inappropriate outbursts of temper.

Kline is the director of the psychiatric unit at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where Aron was taken for testing and treatment in )) August. He said he ordered two types of brain scans after Aron told him she had once been thrown to the floor by her husband and lost consciousness.

Dr. Barry Aron, her husband, has testified he pushed his wife to the floor on Halloween 1995 after she tore up money from his wallet. But he said he didn't think his wife had been knocked out.

Kline said one doctor found Ruthann Aron's electroencephalogram, or EEG, to be normal, but a second doctor detected the abnormality.

Kline was the fourth doctor called by the defense as it tries to prove Aron was mentally ill and incapable of knowing right from wrong when she hired a hit man in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her husband and lawyer Arthur Kahn.

When asked whether his patient, a former U.S. Senate candidate, could have been faking illness, Kline scoffed.

"I believe Ms. Aron at times tends to minimize her symptoms and ignore aspects of her history that are particularly embarrassing to her," he said.

Aron told Kline she had been sexually abused by her father as a child, a claim she also made to Dr. Sallyann Sack, whom Kline hired to test and evaluate Aron.

Aron's father began abusing her when she was 7, Sack said Aron told her, and threatened to have his wife committed if Aron revealed the abuse to anyone.

Sack said Aron suffers brain damage but acknowledged to the Rockville jury that she didn't discover that during her six-hour examination. She added it to her report only after consulting with the defense's other doctors.

The Bethesda psychologist said Aron told her she had tried to commit suicide twice last spring.

"She held a gun in her mouth after Barry Aron told her people who shoot themselves in the head sometimes survive," Sack said.

A visibly distressed Ruthann Aron left the courtroom in midafternoon during Sack's testimony about the Rorschach test results.

When asked to envision what she saw in inkblots, Aron saw bloody, violent images -- a monster, then a Viking, then herself as a gladiator. "There was more than one reference to cannibalism and body parts," Sack said.

Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell pressed Sack on whether Aron could be faking mental illness on the tests.

"Ms. Aron could not be malingering this response unless she was the most fantastic Academy Award actor I have ever seen in my life," said Sack. "And she is not."

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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