Two weeks before the bullet-riddled body of Timothy Warner was found in the woods of Poolesville, his estranged wife, Lisa Rubin, left a Silver Spring gun shop with a "Lady Smith" .38-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol, the shop manager testified yesterday.

Randolph Reynolds, the first prosecution witness called in Rubin's first-degree murder trial, said the defendant told him she wanted the guns for protection and to practice target shooting with a girlfriend.

Rubin, 34, is charged with shooting Warner nine times on the evening of April 24 after arranging to meet her husband at a rural veterinary clinic to have their dog, Muttley, put to sleep.

The Rubin trial pits three of the state's most prominent criminal defense attorneys against a specially appointed prosecutor assigned to the case amid allegations of conflict of interest and questions about attorney-client confidentiality.

Rubin's original defense lawyer, Darrel Longest, reported the discovery of Warner's corpse to police. Although Longest and his partner, P. David Gavin, led police to the body, the pair refused to answer specific questions, citing attorney-client privilege.

And because Longest was a former Montgomery County prosecutor, the State's Attorney's Office asked that Mark Foley, an assistant state's attorney in Prince George's County, be appointed to handle the trial.

A Rockville private investigation firm hired by Rubin to conduct surveillance of her husband also has played an unusual role in the trial. Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge William C. Miller ruled the attorney-client confidentiality rule did not cover the private detectives, although one of them had worked for Longest for about 10 years.

"There was no employer-employee relationship that existed similar to that between Perry Mason and Paul Drake," Miller ruled.

Rubin called private detective Robert Miller shortly after the slaying. Miller took pictures of the crime scene and helped to have Rubin admitted to a hospital under a false name for an alleged drug overdose on the night of the shooting, according to court testimony.

Yesterday, Reynolds testified he spent about two hours on April 10 demonstrating the two pistols to Rubin at the Atlantic Guns shop. In opening statements yesterday, Foley said Warner was shot five times in the back at close range. Foley said police found two piles of spent .38-caliber cartridges in the woods and a Beretta pistol under Warner's body that had not been fired.

During a pretrial hearing yesterday, Judge Miller refused to quash a search warrant at Longest's law office, where police found a .38-caliber gun believed to be the murder weapon.

Warner's girlfriend, Deborah Servin-Leete, testified yesterday that Rubin and Warner, 28, had agreed the day before the shooting to meet about 6 p.m. at the Peachtree Veterinary Clinic on Darnestown Road. Servin-Leete said the last time she saw Warner, an engineer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was about 5:15 p.m. when he dropped her off at a mall.