Aron defense lawyers focus on credibility of her husband Attorney suggests he was involved with woman

July 15, 1998|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Defense lawyers for Ruthann Aron tried to cast doubts on her husband's credibility yesterday, suggesting he was romantically involved with another woman last year at the time Aron contacted a supposed hit man to kill him.

Attorney Harry Trainor questioned Dr. Barry Aron about telephone calls he made around that time to a woman with whom he now lives in the Kentlands area of Gaithersburg, and about a trip he made with her to Colorado three weeks after his wife's arrest. But Aron denied he was romantically involved at the time, as he did during the first trial.

"I had been through a very stressful and difficult ordeal," he replied. "She was a friend who offered me her parents' home."

Ruthann Aron, the Potomac developer and one-time U.S. Senate candidate, is accused of soliciting an undercover detective she believed to be a hit man to kill her husband and a Maryland lawyer.

After a hung jury in the first trial, she is being retried on the charges in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville before a new jury and Judge Vincent Ferretti Jr.

Questioned on letter

Trainor also asked about a letter written last month by Barry Aron's lawyer, that seemed to suggest he would be willing to provide "useful" information to the defense in exchange for resolving marital differences with his wife.

Aron said he told his lawyer only to inform the defense that he would cooperate, and was not sure he had any information that would be particularly useful.

For six hours yesterday, Aron described his 33-year "roller coaster" marriage to a woman he alternately described as intelligent, witty and caring, vulnerable, angry and erratic.

At the defense table, Ruthann Aron showed little emotion as her husband testified. She took notes and occasionally spoke to her lawyers.

But as Barry Aron described their courtship, she slumped in her chair, eyes cast downward.

No stability existed in the marriage, he said. Hurt by an affair he had in 1970, she frequently expressed fears that he would leave her, and several times drew up separation agreements to obtain virtually all their assets if he did.

He promised never again to stray and readily signed them, Aron said.

"I desperately wanted to make the marriage work," he said. "I thought I could make it work.

But, he added, "She would pull the plug over relatively minor provocations."

Intended to file for divorce

In the weeks before June 9 last year, when his wife was arrested on two counts of solicitation to commit murder, Aron notified her that he intended to file for divorce. The marriage was hopeless, he told her.

When he learned about her alleged scheme from a police officer who came to his office, Aron said, "I think my heart stopped for a couple seconds."

He said he drove himself home, searched the house for weapons, realized two handguns were missing, and went to bed with a shotgun in his hand that night.

"I was genuinely scared," he said.

Even though his wife was then in jail, "I didn't understand the depth of the conspiracy to have me killed," Aron said. "Until those guns were accounted for, I felt I was in jeopardy."

Asked if his wife could be described as impulsive, he said absolutely not.

"Ruthann is one of the most planned, think-ahead, think-of-the-options persons I have ever known," he said. "I can't think of a single impulsive thing Ruthann has ever done."

Ruthann Aron, 55, has pleaded not criminally responsible, Maryland's equivalent to an insanity defense. Part of the defense case is expected to include testimony that she suffers from mental illness and childhood sexual abuse.

But her husband yesterday said he doubted the severity of any mental illness.

"In my heart, I need to believe she's mentally ill," he said. "But as I review the events and things that have happened, sometimes you have to face the unbearable."

Pub Date: 7/15/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.