Court Suspends Georgetown Murder Suspect's Right to Self-Representation
Albrecht Muth, 47, is charged in the murder of his late wife Viola Drath, 91.
Judge Russell F. Canan suspended Albrecht Muth's right to represent himself, stating that Muth "at this time is physically and mentally incapable of representing himself." Muth is charged in the strangling death of his 91-year-old wife in their Georgetown home in August 2011.
Canan placed a call to the medical director at the D.C. Department of Corrections during the status conference Thursday. Based on information from that conversation, the judge determined that Muth was no longer fit to represent himself. Though Canan did not release extensive details about Muth's health because of privacy concerns raised by the defendant's legal advisers, he told the court that Muth's situation was "grave."
The judge had previously requested Muth's medical records, but Muth refused and his legal co-counsels argued in court Thursday, that the judge had not been sufficiently clear that the records would be used to make a determination of Muth's ability to represent himself.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Kirschner supported the judge's decision to suspend Muth's right to represent himself. During the proceedings he accused Muth of "trying to game the system" and said, considering Muth had starved himself into a state of hospitalization, "it seems inappropriate" to allow him to continue to operate pro se.
Should Muth's health improve or situation change, he could petition the court to re-instate his right to self-representation. Until that time, Defense Attorneys Dana Page and Craig Hickein will be the attorneys of record for Muth's case.
Canan asked they attorneys to respond by close of business Friday about the defense's request that Muth's medical condition remain private.
Canan told the attorneys, he seeks to balance Muth's rights to certain privacies and the public's right to know the status of the defendant's health.
The court called for another meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 14 to discuss the matter.