Defense Fails to Strike Prosecution Doctor's Testimony and Report
Report showed Georgetown murder suspect Albrecht Muth is competent to stand trial.
Despite efforts by the public defender to discredit him as an expert witness and have his report stricken from the record, Dr. Mitchell Hugonnet testimony and report — which say Georgetown murder suspect Albercht Muth is competent to stand trial — were permitted to remain in evidence Wednesday as Albrecht Muth's competency hearing continued.
In his report released in August 2012, Hugonnet was the first medical expert to assert Muth is competent to stand trial for the murder of his wife, Viola Drath. Drath was found murdered in her Q Street NW home in August of 2011.
Hugonnet wrote in his report Muth deliberately minimized his capabilities in intelligence tests and feigned being delusional.
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During his testimony Wednesday, Hugonnet called Muth a "method actor" because of the way he has taken on the Iraqi general persona in all interactions with doctors and court officials. Muth makes people believe that he believes he is an Iraqi general, Hugonnet said.
But before he was able to testify in court Wednesday, public defender Laura Rose moved disqualify his testimony and strike his report.
Hugonnet currently has a case on appeal Rose said raises clear concerns about his ethics. A board fined him for having a business relationship with a woman he was working with in a supervisory capacity and for not keeping proper records of her training hours, Rose said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner said the active litigation was "entirely irrelevant" to the Muth proceedings.
Rose also objected to the doctor because he failed to include or mention in his August report three additional tests he ran while developing it. One of the three tests would have supported the defense's argument that Muth has cognitive issues.
Hugonnet said it was an "oversight" on his part, adding laterthe test Rose was criticizing him for excluding was an "outlier."
"The numbers don't fit," he said.
Rose challenged: "The test doesn't support your opinion."
But the doctor said the numbers from the test mean nothing without context — especially considering the other two tests he also excluded would actually support his findings.
Judge Russel F. Canan said while the finding of the board in Hugonnet's ethics case would be given weight when he considers the competency status, it was not sufficient to strike the doctor's testimony altogether. Additionally, Hugonnet testified that not including the tests was an omission, but not intentional. An omission "is not enough to vacate an opinion," in this instance, Canan said.
The judge allowed Huggonet to testify and for his report to remain as part of the record.
The competency hearing will continue Thursday and again next Tuesday in DC Superior Court.