Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ruthann Aron: A Deadly Campaign

Intent to Kill

The second week into the trial, Barry took the stand and answered questions relevant to what he knew about Ruthann and her father's relationship. He told jurors that throughout the marriage he was never made aware of sexual abuse by Ruthann's father. However, he did mention that her father was indeed a "bullying man" who "yelled and screamed a lot," Shaver quoted him as saying. Regardless, Ruthann visited him and her mother regularly during the earlier years of their marriage, it was further reported.

Ruthann Aron
Ruthann Aron

Barry also talked about his turbulent 31-year-long relationship with Ruthann, which he likened to a "rollercoaster." He admitted having an affair, which was the source of many of the arguments the couple had. At one point, Barry was confronted with a note he had written to Ruthann, which said, "I am going to have an affair if I want to, and if you don't like it you can shoot yourself in the head." He claimed to have no memory of writing the note, but said that if he had written it, he likely did so during one of the many arguments they had, Shaver reported. The note was testament to the fact that their marital problems had spun dangerously out of control well before Ruthann tried to harm her husband, and it had gotten progressively worse as time had worn on.

Barry also told the jury about one of the more volatile arguments they had in the mid-1990's, which led to his pushing her so hard that she fell backwards through a set of doors. The argument was purportedly over money in his wallet. Barry claimed that the impact of her hitting her head, as a result of the push, caused her to briefly pass out, although he thought she was faking losing consciousness. When she came to, Ruthann went into her bedroom, grabbed her gun and threatened to shoot Barry if he came near her. It was unclear if Ruthann's diagnosis of temporal lobe encephalopathy stemmed from the head injuries she sustained from the force of the fall. What was clear was that Ruthann had had enough and was filled with so much rage that she was capable of killing.

Barry further testified about the weeks leading up to Ruthann's arrest and how she exhibited an "uncomfortable calm," that was out of character for her, Shaver reported. Even when he threatened divorce during that time, it elicited little response from her. He commented that she would normally fly into rages at such comments. Despite the many arguments they had in their turbulent marriage, he never really believed she would plan to have him killed. He told the court during cross-examination by defense attorneys that it was hard to imagine that "Ruthann could do anything as horrible as what has happened without being mentally ill"...," further saying that "the thought that she did it without being mentally ill is really impossible for me to bear." Shaver reported.

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