Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ruthann Aron: A Deadly Campaign

Left Hanging

The suspense was almost too much. Those following the case anxiously waited for five intense days for the jury to arrive at a verdict until finally the shocking news came out. Juror Shawn D. Walker, 39, an instructor at a Rockville school for the mentally disabled, hung the jury when she sympathized with Ruthann's insanity defense, Shaver reported.

Defense Attorney Barry Helfand
Defense Attorney Barry Helfand

News of the mistrial spread through the political establishment like wildfire. State Attorney Robert L. Dean immediately responded by telling reporters that the prosecution was going to seek a retrial as soon as possible. Defense Attorney Barry Helfand expressed his delight at the outcome but worried whether Ruthann was emotionally capable of going through another trial. Shaver quoted him as saying, "This has been very gut-wrenching for her. She was very, very upset and very, very scared."

Regardless, Ruthann was free on bond, preparing for the upcoming trial scheduled for July, 1998. This time, she would exchange her defense team for a new lawyer, former Montgomery County prosecutor Teresa Whalen. According to The Washington Post, Whalen worked for the State's Attorney's Office, but was fired by Robert L. Dean in 1997 after allegedly ending a sexual relationship with him. At the time she took on Ruthann's case, Whalen was in the process of launching her own lawsuit against her former boss.

In the meantime, Barry Aron filed a lawsuit against his estranged wife. According to Arlo Wagner, reporting for The Washington Post, the suit contended that Barry "suffered emotional and physical distress as a result of his wife's attempts to poison his dinner and then hire a hit man to kill him, and he continues to be fearful for his life." The $7.5 million lawsuit was filed in June to meet the statute of limitations.

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