Psychiatrist, ex-fiance testify about Aron's bizarre behavior

March 12, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Ruthann Aron's bizarre behavior -- from self-mutilation to rages or incoherent rambling that baffled longtime friends -- filled yesterday's testimony in a Rockville courtroom.

A psychiatrist testifying for the defense said he became convinced Ruthann Aron had a borderline personality disorder after she told him she had mutilated her toe with a nail clipper.

Dr. Lawrence Kline said he initially thought Aron suffered from major depression. That changed, he said, last November.

"She said she did it on purpose," Kline said of the toe injury. "I demanded to see it."

After he examined the toe and decided she didn't need stitches, Kline said Aron told him she had a history of self-mutilation going back to age 10.

Prosector I. Matthew Campbell asked if Aron had ever mentioned the past incidents during her four months of treatment with him or "did she just remember it?"

"I never asked," Kline replied.

Kline, head of the psychiatric unit at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, said he added bipolar disorder -- or extreme mood swings -- to his diagnosis after conferring with Aron's other doctors and her lawyers during two pretrial conferences.

Aron has pleaded not criminally responsible to charges she hired a hit man in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her husband and lawyer Arthur Kahn. Her lawyers are hoping doctors and acquaintances can persuade a Rockville jury that Aron, 55, has a mental illness that prevents her from knowing right from wrong.

Two defense witnesses -- a state lawmaker and Aron's college sweetheart -- testified that her behavior became increasingly bizarre last spring.

Del. Gilbert J. Genn, a Bethesda Democrat, said Aron pressed him last year to join her in a business venture and became frustrated when he didn't give her an answer by the deadline she imposed.

She also was obsessed with the appeal of her defamation suit against former political rival William Brock and Kahn, who was a key witness against her, Genn said.

Genn told her to settle the case rather than pursue a second trial, advice also given by Robert Beerman, Aron's college fiance.

Beerman, a Greenwich, Conn., lawyer, testified that even though Aron had broken off their engagement, they remained close friends.

He raised money for her 1994 U.S. Senate primary against Brock.

Beerman testified that Aron called him on May 30, 10 days before her arrest, but he hung up on her because her conversation was "babble."

"I've known Ruthann Aron since 1961," he said. "And this was the first time her conversation was devoid of any logic."

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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