The Washington Post

Albrecht Muth, weak from hunger strike, is ruled competent for murder trial

Albrecht Gero Muth, right, who was accused of killing his wife, Viola Drath, in their Georgetown home is now competent to stand trial, according to doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital. (Washington Times, Sandy Schaeffer-Hopkins)

The man accused of killing his socialite wife in their Georgetown home last year is now competent to stand trial, according to doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Albrecht Gero Muth, 48, is “noticeably weakened” after resuming a hunger strike last month, the doctors wrote in a report filed with D.C. Superior Court. But Muth is nevertheless to stand trial on first-degree murder charges in the death of Viola Drath, 91, according to the filing.

Muth has been a patient at the District-run hospital since February, when doctors first found Muth incompetent for trial. At that time, and during subsequent reports, doctors said they believed that Muth would regain competency with monitoring and medication.

In their latest report, filed Tuesday, doctors said they based their new diagnosis on interviews with Drath’s family members, who gave them a history of Muth’s background.

Muth had a “history of becoming a variety of personas” as he tried to develop social relationships or alliances with key political individuals, Drath’s relatives said; he would take on a new personality when the previous one had “run its course.”

Doctors then determined that actions they attributed to his psychotic disorder “changed dramatically” depending upon the circumstances in which he found himself, they wrote. Previous psychological exams, the doctors said, did not fully account for Muth’s “personality structure, particularly the grandiosity and deceitfulness that appear to be focal parts of his personality.”

The St. Elizabeths report came two weeks after doctors hired by District prosecutors submitted a similar report. Those findings also concluded that Muth was competent for trial.

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

In August 2011, 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.

Last month, St. Elizabeths doctors said Muth had resumed a hunger strike and had to be taken to a hospital for treatment. As a result, doctors say, Muth lost 25 pounds and now suffers from hypotension, hypoglycemia and dehydration.

Doctors have expressed concern that based on his physical condition, Muth may be “too physically weak” to sit through long court proceedings.

Doctors say Muth told them he planned to continue the fast, which was commanded by God and Archangel Gabriel, until Oct. 19.

Earlier this year, Muth was hospitalized after a similar fast.

Another hearing in Muth’s case is scheduled for Thursday before Judge Russell F. Canan, who in July rescheduled the trial to March from October.

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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