Attorneys rest in trial of Albrecht Muth, accused of killing Georgetown socialite wife

After a week of testimony, the jury in the murder trial of a German native charged with killing his socialite wife in their Georgetown home could begin deliberations Wednesday.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys and prosecutors rested their cases in the D.C. Superior Court trial of Albrecht Gero Muth, 49, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Viola Herms Drath, 91, in her Georgetown brownstone in August 2011.

During the trial, prosecutors put on the stand more than a dozen witnesses, including Drath’s family members and friends who testified about years of abuse they say they witnessed at the hand of Muth during the couple’s 20-year marriage.

Muth’s attorneys with the District’s Public Defender Service argued their client was innocent and not responsible for his wife’s slaying. Their only witness was a forensics specialist who testified that Muth’s DNA was not present at the murder scene or on Drath’s body. Muth told police he found his wife’s body stretched out on her bathroom floor.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors are scheduled to make closing arguments Wednesday.

Muth is currently in Department of Corrections custody while in a Washington area hospital after conducting a fast for more than a year. He was able to listen to trial and watch it via videoconferencing from his hospital bed with court technical employees at his bedside to aid with the videoconference.

Muth briefly appeared on video screen during the trial Tuesday when the jury was out of the courtroom. Judge Russell F. Canan asked Muth whether he wanted to testify, which would have meant videoconferencing him into the courtroom from his hospital bed. But Muth, looking thin and frail with his hands folded on his stomach and a sheet pulled up to his chest and handcuffs on the bed rail next to him, said he did not want to testify. As he responded to the judge’s brief questions, Muth kept his eyes closed while he repeatedly raised and lowered his eyebrows with each sentence.

Prosecutors had argued against allowing jurors to see Muth in his weakened condition out of fear such a sight could elicit bias.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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