Albrecht Muth, his attorneys and the prosecution are preparing for a March 25 trial for the August 2011 murder of Muth's late wife, Viola Drath, in her Georgetown home.
This week Judge Russell Canan granted a motion for independent DNA testing, per Muth's request.
During a previous hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Kirschner told the court that the Metropolitan Police lab had nail clippings from Drath that may contain trace DNA. The prosecution had the DNA evidenced recovered from the scene tested Metropolitan Police lab.
At the time the defense worried that MPD testing would destroy any evidence, making it impossible to perform any independent testing. Canan allowed the testing because the lab's policy was to avoid "needless" consumption of DNA material.
On Feb. 19 Muth told his attoneys that he wanted and independent review performed by a lab in Ohio. Canan's order allowed this request.
The DNA may be a critical component of the case.
Charging documents state that Muth had scratches on either side of his forehead during his interview with police in the days after Drath's death and before his arrest. In court documents, Muth is said to have claimed the scratches came from running into a door, but the affiant suggested the scratches were more consistent with scratches made by another person, not a door.
In December, the court found Muth competent to stand trial and agreed that he could represent himself. Though Muth had wanted to proceed pro se in his trial, the court recently re-instated his public defender attorneys because of his declining health.
Muth has been starving himself as part of a self-proclaimed fast ordered by the Angel Gabriel. Last week Canan again denied Muth's request to proceed without the support of his attorneys because he "has voluntarily put himself in this position" and was being disruptive to the court proceedings.
A doctor treating Muth at United Medical Center told the court that Muth's condition meant he could not sit up without causing problems with his blood pressure and that Muth faced the "imminent risk of sudden death" due his ongoing fast.
The DC corrections department, however, has not been able to meet the standards required to secure a medical guardian who could compel Muth to be fed.
Muth has signed a do not resuscitate or DNR order, which makes the matter of his trial complicated. The prosecution raised concerns that Muth could expire in transport to his trial or during a trial if he was present in the court room.
Canan asked both the prosecution and the defense to research the issues surrounding Muth's health, his ability to represent himself and possible alternatives to his physical presence in court, like a video feed from his hospital room. They will bring that information to the court at the next scheduled trial readiness hearing planned for March 7.
More on Albrecht Muth:
- Court Suspends Muth's Right to Represent Himself, Reinstitutes Attorneys
- Judge Declares Albrecht Muth Competent to Stand Trial
- Muth to Represent Himself, Claims Wife's Death was a 'Hit' by Iranian Agents
- Court Suspends Georgetown Murder Suspect's Right to Self-Representation
- Albrecht Muth Calls Himself a Prophet, Claims to See Archangel Gabriel