A government prosecutor accused former Georgetown resident Albrecht Muth of killing his 91-year-old wife Viola Drath in their Q Street home. But a public defender said that Muth did not commit the crime.
At a Tuesday D.C. Superior Court trial session, prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said that Muth had a history of abusing Drath and pointed to several instances of domestic violence, including a 1992 court conviction that Muth had beaten Drath, blackening her eyes.
“This homicide… this murder was a long time coming,” Kirschner said.
Kirschner also pointed to Muth’s drunken state the night of Drath’s murder, signs that Drath had been dragged to the bathroom where she was found dead, Google searches by Muth on the night of Drath’s death for “extradition to Mexico, flights to Iceland and crossing the Canadian border,” and an allegedly phony modification to Drath’s will.
Muth’s attorney Craig Hickein said that Kirschner’s claims were simply a “theory” and that his material was not evidence that Muth was involved with Drath’s death. Hickein pointed to a lack of DNA evidence and Muth’s cooperation with police.
“Albrecht Muth didn’t hide; he didn’t flee; he didn’t need to,” Hickein said.
Muth’s trial on first-degree murder charges is expected to continue for about two weeks. If convicted, Muth faces life in prison.
Check back here for updates on the trial.
The trial began on Monday after more than two years of delays, which D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell Canan said Muth deliberately caused to avoid trial.
“Mr. Muth’s absence here is of his own making,” Canan said during a Tuesday trial session.
Muth began a fast in 2012 causing the court to question his mental state, but he was later found competent. In the face of a trial date, he began a “serious” fast in February 2013, forcing his transfer to a hospital after he lost almost half his body weight, Canan said.
“Muth is continuing to intermittently eat to keep himself alive,” Canan said. But “his state is such that he cannot be moved from his hospital bed.”
As a result of Muth’s behavior surrounding the trial and his fragile health, the trial kicked off without his physical presence in the courtroom.
And although it is not required, Muth will be able to see and hear the entire trial, including witness testimony and jury member’s reactions, through videoconferencing, Canan said.
Find out who the potential witnesses are.
Muth is probably best known around town for the Iraqi military uniform he wore all the time.
But an eight-page New York Times article “The Worst Marriage in Georgetown,” painted a shady picture of Muth’s life with Drath behind closed doors.
The article portrayed Muth as using Drath for money and political power while alienating her from those she was close with.
“During her years with Muth, Drath’s social world slowly contracted. Guests flooded her home in response to Muth’s invitations, but she lost touch with old friends,” wrote Franklin Foer in the article.
On August 12, 2011, Metropolitan Police found Drath dead on her bathroom floor and an autopsy the next day suggested Drath had been beaten and strangled.
Muth was charged with her murder a few days later.