Update: Judge Finds Probable Cause in Muth Case, Muth Held Until Trial
Wife, who was found dead last month, tried to have him deported, prosecution says.
Updated 4:12 p.m.
Judge Gerald Fisher found probable cause in the case against Albrecht Muth and determined that Muth posed a danger to the community and a flight risk. Muth will be held until trial; his next day is court is Nov. 18.
During her cross-examination, Defense Attorney Dana Page questioned the motives and decisions of the witnesses who spoke with police about the Viola Drath murder investigation. Page asked whether witnesses came forth to testify on their own accord and whether the reward offered in the case affected their decision. She also argued that, despite multiple people hearing about alleged abuse and threats, no one contacted police or followed through in reporting Muth.
Page questioned the actions of Drath's daughter, who told police about the document Muth allegedly presented saying he should be given between $150,000 and $200,000 upon her death. Muth's daughter was also the one to bring into question the authenticity of the signature on that document. Page asked whether Muth's daughter had ill will for the defendant and questioned why she had never stepped in if there had been so much abuse in the relationship.
In her closing remarks, Page said there was no hard evidence in the case against Muth. "There's the assumption that it must have been him," said Page. But, "this is just purely a circumstantial case," she said with "no direct evidence at all."
But the judge said he found probable cause. Judge Fisher was swayed by the fact that Muth was the only one in the house the night of the murder, the prior animosity between Muth and Drath, the possibility of financial gain for Muth, and that one witness purports to have a confession from Muth while in jail, among other reasons.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner successfully argued that Muth should continue to be held until trial, saying that Drath's death was "not an isolated incident" and said Muth was a "volatile individual." Kirschner argued "he has killed his wife and threatened to kill others."
Fisher said he could not conclude that Muth would not pose a danger and would not be a flight risk. A status hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17.
Albrecht Muth, charged with killing his 91-year-old wife, claimed Friday his trial violated his rights under the Geneva Conventions and that the conditions in his D.C. jail were sub-human.
Muth, 47, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of his wife, Viola Drath, who was found dead Aug. 12 in their home in the 3200 block of Q Street NW. Medical examiners determined the cause of death to be strangulation and blunt force trauma.
At his preliminary hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Muth argued that as a "serving officer of a foreign army" he was entitled to his uniform and rank. Muth claims to be an Iraqi military officer. The Iraqi Embassy has denied any affiliation with Muth.
According to Muth, he almost landed at St. Elizabeth's this morning because he refused correctional officers' requests to put on underwear under his orange jumpsuit.
"We don't wear underwear," said Muth, referring to Iraqi military officers.
The government has 10 days to respond to Muth's alleged violations of his rights.
The prosecution's first witness, Detective James Wilson, who said Drath was concerned for her safety and she tried to have her husband deported. Wilson said several witnesses who said Drath had mentioned her husband's growing anti-American sentiments. One witness told the detective that Drath had said her husband had threatened to "bomb Georgetown."