Psychiatrist says Aron tried not to get caught She disputes claims that developer could not know right from wrong

July 29, 1998|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

A forensic psychiatrist yesterday characterized Ruthann Aron as a Scarlett O'Hara, who repeatedly considered the risks of getting caught as she contracted for her husband's murder, only to "think about it tomorrow" and go forward anyway.

Dr. Christiane Tellefsen, who examined Aron last fall at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, disputed testimony from defense doctors who described the Potomac developer's actions as purposefully self-destructive and a sign of mental illness.

"I found evidence that she was trying hard not to get caught," Tellefsen testified yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court. She noted Aron's use of fake names, a disguise and pay phones in dealing with her supposed hit man and a go-between.

Aron, 55, is charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder in a June 1997 plan that targeted her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, and Arthur Kahn, a lawyer who had represented her former business partners in a civil suit against her.

Aron, who launched an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 1994, has pleaded not criminally responsible to the charges, the equivalent of an insanity defense.

But Tellefsen said she found no evidence of bipolar manic depression or borderline personality disorder, the two mental illnesses that defense doctors say together prevented Aron from understanding right from wrong.

Instead, she said Aron has suffered from chronic, low-level depression throughout her life and traits of personality disorder. Despite Aron's preoccupation with death and frequent discussions with her husband about suicide, she had no history of attempted suicide and had never been medi- cated or hospitalized to protect her from herself, Tellefsen said.

Suicide, she added, is something Aron "keeps in her back pocket and uses whenever she needs to relieve anxiety."

Tellefsen said that among the most remarkable comments Aron made had to do with her husband, who, weeks before her arrest, informed her he wanted a divorce.

Tellefsen said Aron told her that she thought the hit man would simply teach her husband a lesson, rough him up a little, break his kneecaps and tell him to start being nice to his wife.

When Tellefsen asked whether she had considered that her husband would have realized she had probably sent the attacker, Aron replied, "What would be wrong with that?" the doctor recalled.

In secretly taped conversations with the supposed hit man, Tellefsen noted, Aron made clear that her intention was for the two men to die, using words such as "obits," and "disappear."

"It is clear to me that it was clear to her that obituary meant dead," Tellefsen said.

Final witnesses are scheduled today, and the case is expected to go to the jury tomorrow.

Pub Date: 7/29/98

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