Ruthann Aron is denied move to halfway house

Montgomery judge refuses to shorten jail term in contract killing attempt

November 09, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

ROCKVILLE -- A Montgomery County circuit judge refused yesterday to shorten the jail sentence of former U.S. Senate candidate Ruthann Aron, despite her teary plea for forgiveness.

During a three-hour hearing, Aron's lawyers sought to have her moved to a halfway house now rather than in April, saying her mental state is deteriorating.

At the end of the hearing, Aron rose to plead her case.

"I don't know what I could say to the court. I don't know what anyone could say for me," she said in a soft, flat voice. "I'm as dark and as dead as I'll ever be."

Aron, 57, has been in the county jail since last November, serving 36 months for trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, and lawyer Arthur Kahn.

Police secretly taped Aron arranging the contracts with a police officer posing as an assassin and arrested her in June 1997, after she made a down payment on her husband's death.

Aron was tried twice on the charges. The first trial ended in a hung jury in March 1998.The second trial ended when Aron pleaded no contest just before the case went to the jury.

The former real estate developer and Potomac millionaire was denied parole in August.

Treatment sought

Harry Trainor, one of her two lawyers, said the jail was unable to provide her with the proper treatment and medication for bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

Trainer asked Judge Vincent Ferretti Jr. to speed her transfer to the next level of incarceration "to maximize her chances for rehabilitation."

Dana Aron Weiner, Aron's daughter and a psychologist, testified that her mother suffers from "severe depression or manic episodes" that worry her.

"I think she's come a long way but I don't think she's able to integrate that or go further with that," she said.

Aron, dressed in a dark blue jail jumpsuit and cranberry sweater, alternately dabbed her eyes and stared at the table in front of her.

Marc Levant, the jail psychologist, said Aron has done well in therapy sessions, "but she's come to a point where she needs to test out what she's learned in psychotherapy."

Hallucinations described

Her private psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Kline, testified that she had hallucinated talking to her dead father and indulged in "ritualistic behavior at bedtime."

Kline said he would place Aron in a day-treatment program at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda where she could get individual and group therapy, art therapy and occupational therapy.

But one of Aron's intended victims, lawyer Arthur Kahn, told the judge that he still fears for his life.

"When I think about Mrs. Aron, I think of myself as a dead person. I fear Mrs. Aron because I heard the voice on those tapes," an emotional Kahn told the judge. "That is the unvarnished Ruthann Aron. That is the real deal."

Kahn said he no longer jogs alone on a nearby track and won't sit near a window at night.

But Aron told Ferretti and prosecutor John McCarthy that she is remorseful. "I will never live this down," she said.

Ferretti said that while Aron "has suffered more than most prisoners suffer" he considered her sentence fair.

The Arons divorced in June, and Barry Aron has remarried.

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