Doctor: Albrecht Muth Faces 'Imminent Risk of Sudden Death'

The court determined that the Georgetown murder suspect cannot proceed pro se under the current circumstances.

DC Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan determined that public defenders should remain the attorneys of record for Georgetown murder suspect Albrecht Muth.

A doctor described Muth as being in "imminent risk of sudden death" due to an ongoing fast.

Muth is scheduled to face a jury March 25 for the murder of his late wife Viola Drath, who was found strangled and beaten in their Georgetown home in August 2011.

In December, the court found Muth competent to stand trial and agreed that he could represent himself.

Dr. Russom Ghebrai, who is treating Muth at United Medical Center, told the court Thursday that Muth's fast had rendered him nothing more than "skin and bones." 

When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner whether Muth faced an "imminent risk of sudden death," Ghebrai answered affirmatively.

After hearing arguments from both the defense and the prosecution about whether Muth could proceed pro se and whether he might be able to appear in court for his March 25 trial, Canan determined that Muth could not presently defend himself.

Canan said Muth's "severe physical status" coupled with the fact that he "has voluntarily put himself in this position" meant he was not complying with the court rules and was disruptive to the court proceedings.

The defense protested Canan's statement that Muth was being "disruptive" and pushed for the court to allow Muth to proceed pro se as he has stated is his desire.

But Canan said Muth has "manipulated the legal and medical system" throughout the court proceedings in order to avoid trial and that the court will not countenance such behavior.

Canan's decision alligned with Kirschner's argument that Muth "is orchestrating his unavailability" and thereby "forfeited his right to proceed pro se."

More on Albrecht Muth:

  • Judge Declares Albrecht Muth Competent to Stand Trial
  • Court Suspends Georgetown Murder Suspect's Right to Self-Representation

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