Ruthann Aron hopped from pay phone to pay phone during the weekend before her arrest, negotiating a deal with a supposed contract killer. The tapes played at her retrial yesterday also showed she worried that her plan to have her husband and another man killed would be found out.
It was 11: 10 a.m. on June 7, 1997, when Aron, a prominent developer, and the "hit man," undercover Detective Terry Ryan, first spoke. She was talking from a coin phone in the entry of a Sears store at White Oak shopping center.
Tapes of their conversations over the three days leading up to Aron's arrest were played yesterday during Aron's retrial. Evidence for the prosecution also includes tapes of discussions between Aron and a friend, William Mossburg Jr., who went to police after she sought his help in finding a hit man.
Aron, 55, is charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. The former U.S. Senate candidate has pleaded not criminally responsible, claiming that a mental disorder made her incapable of knowing right from wrong.
Retrial in fourth day
Her retrial will enter its fourth day of testimony today before Judge Vincent Ferritti Jr. in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
According to the tapes, when Aron first talks to the undercover detective she believes to be a hit man, he asks what she means when she says she wants someone to "disappear."
"Wrong terminology, probably -- my fault," she answers. "It took me awhile to figure out how to say it so it would be crystal clear without saying something I didn't want to say," she says.
"We're talking about an obituary?" the officer asks.
"Right," she answers.
Aron tells him she has given some thought to doing the job herself, but by the end of the conversation, she provides the name of a man she wants dead.
"K-A-H-N -- Arthur," she says, supplying the name of a lawyer who represented the opponent in a contentious lawsuit against her.
She agrees to pay $10,000 and make a $500 deposit in advance, and the two agree to talk again in two days.
But by the next morning, Aron is on the phone with Mossburg, asking that he get in touch with the hit man to arrange a phone call by that evening.
Using the code name "Sam," she frets to Mossburg about being set up.
"If he ain't for real, that would be a problem," she says.
"Let me tell you something," she adds. "You're no dummy, and neither am I. If he ain't for real, you and I would know."
Her conversation that evening with the undercover detective takes a new turn. There are two jobs, she says.
"Is this second one -- is this accident to result in an obituary?" the detective asks.
"Yes," she replies.
Moments later she identifies the second target, spelling the name of her husband, Dr. Barry Aron. She also provides his license plate, description of his car and office address.
When asked which target should be killed first, Aron replies, "second one first."
'It's dead, it's done'
She promises to drop the $500 deposit in an envelope marked "Universal Systems" at a Gaithersburg Marriott hotel the next day.
"Once it's dropped, it's dead, it's done," the detective says.
As tapes of their conversations were played in court yesterday, Aron kept her face buried in her arms on the defense table.
In a final phone call prior to her arrest, she assures the detective that her husband is the only person who drives the Acura she had identified during the week.
A former manager of the Marriott testified yesterday that a woman wearing a trench coat, floppy hat and tinted glasses gave him an envelope for Universal Systems the next day, tipped him a dollar and asked him to leave it at the front desk.
Aron's husband is scheduled to testify today.
Pub Date: 7/14/98