Jury Without Verdict After Third Day
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 27, 1998; Page B04
Concern over a deadlock continued to loom yesterday as a Montgomery County jury failed for a third day to reach a verdict in the murder-for-hire trial of politician Ruthann Aron. But the judge said he believes the panel can still reach agreement.
After jurors completed their 19th hour of deliberations yesterday, defense attorney Barry H. Helfand asked Circuit Court Judge Paul A. McGuckian to issue a "directed verdict." McGuckian denied the motion and told jurors to reconsider their positions overnight and "step back and approach the problem differently" when they reconvene.
If the jury becomes hopelessly deadlocked and McGuckian declares a mistrial, Aron would be retried on the murder solicitation charges as soon as possible, while witnesses are still fresh, said Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell. That probably would happen before Aron's trial on separate charges that she tried to kill her husband, urologist Barry Aron, by allegedly feeding him poisoned chili, Campbell said.
The jury is trying to decide whether Aron is criminally responsible for plotting in June to have her husband and Baltimore lawyer Arthur G. Kahn killed. Prosecutors played audiotapes of Aron negotiating with a police detective posing as a hit man, but the defense presented medical experts who said Aron was too mentally ill at the time to be held responsible.
Jurors looked less tired after yesterday's deliberations than they had the previous two days, and many smiled and chatted with each other as they took their courtroom seats for the judge to dismiss them.
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