Aron jurors still deadlocked after 20 hours

March 27, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

After almost 20 hours of deliberations, the jury in Ruthann Aron's murder-for-hire trial remains deadlocked.

The 10 women and two men received additional instructions from Montgomery County Circuit Judge Paul McGuckian yesterday before being told to report for duty today.

McGuckian gently urged them to "step back and look at a problem differently, turn it inside out and take a different perspective."

The jurors, who appeared tired and tense Wednesday, seemed more relaxed yesterday. They did not send notes to McGuckian and came out of their deliberation room only for a lunch break.

Defense lawyer Barry Helfand, who Wednesday pushed for the declaration of a mistrial, softened his stance last night. He said his concerns about the majority of the jurors possibly browbeating the minority were lessened when he saw they continue to get along.

Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell also said he was encouraged because the jurors seem to be working through the issues.

Aron, 55, is charged with hiring a hit man to kill her husband, Barry Aron, and a lawyer, Arthur Kahn.

Helfand has acknowledged that the former Potomac businesswoman and politician committed the crimes, but contends she was mentally ill and could not tell right from wrong.

Campbell said if a mistrial is declared, he would like to retry the case beginning April 6. That is the date Aron is scheduled to stand trial on charges she poisoned her husband's bowl of chili with prescription drugs.

The prosecutor said he would like the short turnaround so his witnesses would have their testimony fresh in their minds.

But that might not be possible because Aron has not waived her right to a speedy trial in the poisoning case, Helfand said. The deadline to begin that trial is early next month.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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