The Washington Post

Albrecht Muth, accused of killing wife Viola Drath, back on hunger strike

The man accused of killing his socialite wife in their Georgetown home has resumed his hunger strike, which has made a mental evaluation almost impossible, psychiatrists at St. Elizabeths Hospital say.

Albrecht Gero Muth, 48, who was charged with murder in the death of Viola Drath, 91, has stopped eating and had to be rushed to the emergency room of United Medical Center three times this month, the doctors at St. Elizabeths wrote in a letter filed in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday.

Muth was admitted to United Medical on Aug. 11 and was put on intravenous hydration. On Sunday, Muth was discharged from the hospital and returned to St. Elizabeths, but he has resumed his fast. As a result, doctors at the District-operated psychiatric hospital say they need more time to evaluate his mental state. Muth is “weak and unable to engage in activities for any substantial length of time,” the doctors wrote.

The doctors were supposed to submit an updated report on Muth’s competency to D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan by Thursday in anticipation of Muth’s next hearing Sept. 6. They have requested additional time.

Earlier this year, Muth was admitted to St. Elizabeths after he went on a similar hunger strike. Doctors determined Muth was not competent to stand trial, but that he likely would regain competency after treatment.

Canan had expressed frustration at the July hearing that Muth’s trial, which was originally scheduled for October, could be delayed until next year because of Muth’s competency and health issues. Prosecutors at that hearing told Canan that their psychiatrists examined Muth and were prepared to find him competent to stand trial.

Muth, who continues to tell St. Elizabeths doctors he is a general in the Iraqi army, had told the judge that his wife’s death was a “hit” ordered by Iranian agents.

Last August, 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 wife died from a fall, but a medical examiner ruled that she had been strangled and beaten.

The couple had been married for more than 20 years, a relationship that Muth said was a “marriage of convenience.” The union gave Muth, a native of Germany, access to Drath’s connections in Washington. It was also a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship, according to court records.

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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