Richard Lee Earman, charged in connection with two murders in Arlington last May, offered a long-time friend $5,000 for killing a person - a real estate agent at Town and Country," the friend, Ray Moore Tugwell Jr. testified in Arlington General District Court.

The agent, Alan W. Foreman, 26, and his girl friend Donna M. Shoemaker, 25, were found shot to death in Foreman's blood spattered Jaguar at the Foreman home in Arlington last May 8.

In a telephone call in early February, Tugwell said, Earman had asked him "if I wanted to make some money." The $5,000 would be paid. Tugwell testified, "after the murder had been accomplished." The money was to come from the dead man's "60 grand insurance policy," Tugwell said he was told.

Tugwell was among two dozen witnesses called by prosecutors yesterday in a preliminary hearing before General District Court Judge Thomas R. Monroe, who is to decide whether to bind Earman over to a grand jury. The testimony was expected to end late last night.

Earman is charged with entering Foreman's home at 1201 N. George Mason Dr. "with the intent to commit murder while armed with a deadly weapon," a felony that carries a sentence of 31 years to life imprisonment on conviction.

Under cross-examination yesterday, Tugwell admitted to having been convicted "a dozen" times for felonies in Arlington. He said the convictions were for theft.

Tugwell, like Earman, was convicted in 1968 for his role in the "Beltway burglars" gang that broke into more than 5,000 Washington area homes in 1966.

Earman, 34, left prison in 1974 and was working as a real estate agent at Town and Country Properties, Inc., at the time of the double slaying. Tugwell was paroled in 1976 and has worked secretly as a police informant since.

Tugwell, a red haired man with a full beard, testified in a low, deliberate voice. "I told him I'd think about it (the offer)," he said. He added that he told Earman he didn't think anyone would murder someone unless the murderer was paid first.

Tugwell testified that in a subsequent phone call - still before the slayings - Earman told him that a man "was tired of making premium benefits (payments) and wanted it (the murder) done as quickly as possible."

"I told him I'd do it for three grand up front," Tugwell said. His thinking at that time, he testified, was to "trip off" the money without doing the work.

"He (Earman) said the guy didn't have the money and wouldn't go for that (payment in advance)." The two had more conversations but nothing was resolved, Tugwell said.

After he read about the slayings. Tugwell said, he phoned someone he knew in the Fairfax County Police Department and told them of Earman's phone calls because Tugwell was worried about his own possible involvement.

The preliminary hearing yesterday was the latest in a round of legal maneuvering involving Earman.He was arrested June 7 and charged with the murders, but the day the trial was scheduled, July 25, Commonwealth's Attorney William S. Burroughs dropped the murder charges after his motions to delay the trial had been denied.

Burroughs had Earman rearrested on the current charge at the same time the other charges were dropped.

Burroughs said his maneuvering was a legal tactic that occurs "very infrequently," but that he was forced to it because of significant new information he had received the night before the trial. He has not specified what that information was.

Two other men, Joseph N. Martin of Sterling, Va., and Charles N. Silcox of Burke, have been charged with murdering Foreman and Shoemaker. Martin, an agent for the New York Life Insurance Co., sold Foreman a $56,000 insurance policy in February, and Silcox was named the beneficiary. The two men have pleaded innocent and their trials are set next month.

Earman has been held without bond since his arrest June 7. Martin and Silcox are free under $10,000 bond each pending their trials.

Burroughs has said in court papers that Earman tried to cover up the slayings to make them look like a burglary. The deaths occurred sometime between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday, May 7, and when police, summoned by a neighbor, arrived the next day: they found a broken window, and blood stains on coins, papers and furniture inside the house.

Some of Shoemaker's credit cards were found in the Logan Circle area of Washington.