Aron couldn't grasp nature of crime, doctor says

March 17, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Doctors for the defense and prosecution yesterday gave vastly different, but hardly surprising, views of the mind of Ruthann Aron.

A psychiatrist hired by Aron said that taped conversations between his patient and a phony hit man prove she was mentally ill and "out in the ozone" at the time of her arrest last summer.

Dr. Michael Spodak became the second medical witness for the defense to testify that Aron, 55, was not criminally responsible when she took out contracts on the lives of her husband and another man.

But after the defense rested its case, a state psychologist testified that while Aron suffered from several mental disorders, she was criminally responsible for her actions.

Dr. Kevin Richards, on the staff of Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, said he interviewed and tested Aron for 11 1/2 hours last fall. He concluded that she had borderline and narcissistic personality disorders and suffered from low-grade depression.

Aron's lawyers have acknowledged she hired a hit man to kill Dr. Barry Aron and Arthur Kahn. But they say the former Potomac businesswoman and U.S. Senate candidate suffered from depression and brain damage and could not appreciate the criminal nature of her acts.

XTC Spodak, a former Perkins psychiatrist who has a private practice in Towson, said Aron's actions and words show that "there's a brain problem going on."

As he read from the transcript of the conversations between Aron and the hit man, Spodak pointed out, "There's no sense of guilt or emotional turmoil." He added that the disconnected behavior "suggests to me not some mastermind criminal, but someone who is totally clueless."

He testified that Aron was not vindictive and did not have a criminal background. He said she functioned normally until late last spring when "her life took a major right turn" as she began conspiring to have the two men killed.

Spodak said Aron did little to check the background of the police officer posing as a hit man. She also failed to set a date for her husband's killing so she could have an alibi and made credit card purchases related to the crime that could be traced.

But prosecutor I. Matthew Campbell countered during cross- examination, asking Spodak if Aron was sloppy rather than insane.

Spodak said that what Ruthann Aron did "goes far beyond stupid. This is a lack of awareness."

When he confronted Aron with the charges against her, Spodak said she responded, "I don't understand. That's not me."

Richards will continue testifying today. The case is expected to go to the jury Friday or Monday.

Pub Date: 3/17/98

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