Muth to Represent Himself, Claims Wife's Death was a 'Hit' by Iranian Agents
Albrecht Muth, 47, is charged in the murder of his late wife Viola Drath, 91.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated below to include a statement from the Drath family in response to today's proceedings.
Albrecht Muth appeared in DC Superior court Friday before Juge Russell F. Canan and asserted his right to represent himself in the felony murder case against him. During the hour-long status conference, Muth continued to link himself with the Iraqi military and alleged that his wife's death was a "hit" orchestrated by agents of Iran because of Muth's role in the Iraqi military; he linked her death to the plot against the Saudi Ambasssdor.
Muth is being held without bail for the murder of his wife, the late Viola Drath. The cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma. A status conference is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. and a trial is set for Oct. 1, 2012.
During the proceedings, Muth asserted that his military status was crucial to his case. "It is my judgement that my wife's murder was a hit by Iranian agents," said Muth. He added that this should be given greater weight because of the plot against the Saudi Ambassador. According to Muth, he and the ambassador had been working on the same issue: namely, U.S. military engagement with Iran.
Accordingly, he asked the judge for closed sessions, so that secret information about Iran and U.S. government agencies, such as the CIA, could be kept secret. The judge told Muth that he could file a formal request, but that under only rare circumstances did courts hold closed sessions.
Canan conducted a Faretta Inquiry to make sure Muth understood his decision to represent himself. During the exchange of questions, the judge told Muth the potential consequences of self-representation.
"It is generally considered not a wise idea to represent onself," said Canan.
He assured Muth that his public defenders are "extremely qualified attorneys", but Muth responded, "I do not share that view."
The judge also asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Kirschner what charges he might seek. Kirschner said there was the possibility that Muth would be indicted for first degree murder.
Canan informed Muth that the court could appoint other attorneys if Muth felt that his counsel was not sufficient. Muth asked to have them on as secondary counsel to help with legal research and filings.
He also said he felt his defense team would be complete once he had on his side a Major in the United States Army and a Captain in the Iraqi Airforce. He indicated that he had asked his defense attorneys to deliver a message to the White House and Department of Defense about the matter. "From there on out the rest will fall into place" he said.
The judge ruled that Muth had "the requisite capability to represent yourself."
Kirschner asked the judge to rule on an Innocence Protection Act matter. The Metropolitan Police lab currently has nail clippings from Drath that may contain trace DNA. The concern raised by the defense was that the DNA might be entirely destroyed during MPD testing, eliminating the defense's ability to have their own testing done. Canan said he would let MPD proceed since its policy was to avoid "needless" consumption of DNA material.
At the end of the conferece, Canan addressed several issues Muth had raised at his last hearing, including unacceptable conditions at the D.C. jail and his assertion of his rights under the Geneva conventions.
With the trial date set, Muth asked the judge to note two last items:
1. That if he were to die in DC jail that his body be release to the military;
2. That effective Sunday night he would begin an "unlimited fast."
The next status conference on the case is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2012, at 9:30 a.m.
“We learned in court today that Albrecht Gero Muth will be representing himself, which he has every right to do. We are grateful for the continued hard work of the Metropolitan Police Department. We hope that justice is served.”
- The Drath Family