The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

Related Items
  • Trial Coverage
  • Main Aron Page
  •   Drama Meets Comedy in Aron Trial

    By Katherine Shaver
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, March 24, 1998; Page B05

    Most of the four weeks of Ruthann Aron's murder-for-hire trial focused on mind-numbing testimony about the politician's brain.

    But there were moments of drama, sadness and even lighthearted fun.

    At one point, defense attorney Barry H. Helfand vigorously objected to what turned out to be a joke about a witness's golf game.

    Davis M. Richardson, one of Aron's former colleagues on the county planning board, testified that Aron appeared perfectly normal during a charity golf tournament the afternoon of her arrest.

    "Your honor, [I have] a question I promised to ask Mr. Richardson," Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell piped up.

    "Objection!" Helfand shouted. "Your honor, this is outside the line [of questioning]!"

    The prosecutor continued unfazed: "Did anything unusual happen?" he asked the witness.

    "I object!" Helfand protested.

    "Yes, sir," Richardson told the courtroom with only a hint of a proud smile, "I hit a hole-in-one."

    Regardless of Aron's fate -- whether she is sentenced to prison or committed to a psychiatric hospital -- many courtroom observers agreed that she already has suffered real punishment in a very public fall from grace.

    Nothing in the onetime U.S. Senate candidate's life, it seemed, was off limits: her childhood sexual abuse, her psychiatric records, her rocky marriage, even the breast implants and wigs the defense said she got to please a demanding husband. (Prosecutors said Aron bought a wig as a disguise to wear when dropping off the supposed hit man's down payment.)

    Helfand lamented to reporters that Aron has been "publicly humiliated" by intense scrutiny of her trial.

    It was the defense, however, that first dragged out Aron's private life as part of a strategy to show how abuse and mental illness pushed her over the edge.

    "We're going to put in Ruthann's life from soup to nuts," Helfand told a reporter before the trial. "Everything," he said. "Nothing's going to be held back."

    Circuit Court Judge Paul A. McGuckian instructed all witnesses not to discuss their testimony.

    That didn't stop lawyer Arthur G. Kahn, one of Aron's alleged targets, from walking off the stand and promptly holding a news conference.

    No, Kahn said, he doesn't think Aron was insane when she added him to her hit list.

    He does, however, think she still wants him "eliminated." And for that reason, he said, he'd prefer Aron end up in a psychiatric hospital rather than prison.

    "I understand you meet a lot of criminals in prison," Kahn said, "and they have connections. It's easy to find someone in prison to kill for you."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

    Back to the top

    Navigation Bar
    Navigation Bar