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Judge rules Albrecht Muth temporarily incompetent

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Albrecht Gero Muth, the man charged in the beating death of his socialite wife in Georgetown, was ruled mentally incompetent for trial Tuesday and ordered to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan’s ruling was only an initial assessment. The judge said he would revisit the decision in about a month after Muth is evaluated by doctors at District-run St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Muth, 47, is charged with second-degree murder in the August death of Viola Drath, 91, his wife of 22 years. Doctors and D.C. jail officials told Canan on Tuesday that Muth had resumed eating after two months of fasting but planned to stop for 40 more days on Monday. Muth has been in and out of a District hospital recently.

A hospital official said Muth told him that the archangel Gabriel told him to fast. Maria Amato, attorney for the D.C. Department of Corrections, said Muth suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations.

Muth, Amato said, told jail officials that he chose a 40-day fast to emulate Moses and Jesus and that he would be “protected.” But Amato said that Muth might not survive another 40-day fast and that a medical intervention could become necessary.

Because he had resumed eating, Muth was in “stable” condition, Amato said, but if he began fasting again, “he could at any time be at a point of imminent danger.”

Muth has also refused medical treatment. In a Jan. 12 letter to Canan that cited “my faith,” he wrote that “under no circumstances whatsoever am I to be given any medical treatment!”

At a Feb. 9 hearing, Canan ruled that Muth, who had requested to represent himself at his trial, was no longer fit and appointed attorneys from the District’s Public Defender Service as his counsel.

A competency hearing was scheduled for March 14, which is also when prosecutors expect to officially indict Muth. In November, the trial date in the killing was set for Oct. 1. District officials have been engaged to look into appointing a guardianship on Muth’s behalf. That decision has also been postponed until after the St. Elizabeths evaluation.

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