The Washington Post

Doctors argue via testimony over Albrecht Muth’s competency

For two days, psychiatrists have taken the witness stand in courtroom in D.C. Court to argue, via testimony, whether Albrecht Gero Muth — the man charged with fatally beating his Georgetown socialite wife last year — was mentally competent to stand trial or a murderous con man feigning mental problems.

On Tuesday, lead prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said he plans to call perhaps three more witnesses in the hearing regarding Muth’s mental state.

Those witnesses, Kirschner said, will discuss Muth’s manipulative nature and attempts to infiltrate Washington’s elite society.

Muth, 48, has been a patient of District-run St. Elizabeths Hospital for nearly a year. For months, the hospital agreed with Muth’s attorneys that was not mentally competent but still wanted more time to observe him.

Prosecutors meanwhile hired their own doctors, who examined Muth and thought him competent — a conclusion later supported by St. Elizabeths’ doctors.

Muth’s attorneys, Dana Page and Craig Hickein of the District’s Public Defender Service, have disputed those findings, saying their client has a long-standing mental illness and was not competent for trial.

Doctors for both sides agreed this week that Muth’s believe that he is an Iraqi army general. But clinical psychiatrist Robert Phillips, a doctor for the prosecution, testified that Muth’s belief relates to his use of strategic personas meant to help him meet specific goals, while defense psychiatrist Shawn Agharkar said he believed Muth suffers from a mental illness triggered by possible trauma from his early years or long-standing mental illness that has long gone untreated.

Both sides are arguing before Judge Russell F. Canan, who is to rule on whether Muth is competent to stand trial in proceedings scheduled for March. The competency hearings are to continue Monday.

Muth has told doctors that if he is found competent, he expects to go to trial and be found guilty in his wife’s death — and also that he plans to fire his attorneys and represent himself, psychiatrists testified this week.

Viola Drath’s body was found in the second-floor bathroom of the home she and Muth shared in the 3200 block of Q Street NW. Muth called police and said his 91-year-old wife died from a fall, but a medical examiner ruled that she had been beaten and strangled.

After his arrest, Muth told authorities his wife was killed as part of an Iranian hit.

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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