An unkempt, weak and pale Albrecht Muth appeared in D.C. Superior Court Tuesday, to observe the dance between the prosecution and defense over discovery of documents relevant to his competency to stand trial in the murder of his late wife, Viola Drath.
After a five-minute sidebar and an hour of open discussion with attorneys, Judge Russell Canan said concluded, "Substantially we're on track here and can proceed" with the competency hearing scheduled for Dec. 3.
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Muth's attorneys filed a motion to wave presence his presence late Friday, but Canan said he did not receive the request until Tuesday. Muth was transferred from St. Elizabeths and appeared by his attorney's side, sitting for much of the hearing because of his weakened state, likely the result of his re-initiated hunger strike.
Defense attorney Dana Page told the court that while the defense had provided much of the requested information, there were still documents outstanding, like records from government agencies and testimony provided by family members during the grand jury proceedings. Page also continued to raise concerns about the time needed to review the thousands of emails on a hard drive her office was still unable to open because of technology problems.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner told Canan that he was in possession of records from both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service regarding Muth, but he said they were 20 years old and he was hesitant to say they were relevant to the competency hearing.
Additionally, Kirschner offered to provide summaries of the statements provided during the grand jury proceedings, but was not inclined to provide the full transcript of family members and other witnesses' testimony to the defense.
Page objected that the prosecution's summaries would be provided through their own lens and would lack the specifics needed for her experts to make appropriate evaluations.
Canan advised the prosecution to use the standard that information showing "the arc of [Muth's] life" was relevant to the competency evaluation.
They agreed that prosecution will create summaries of the testimony and the court will compare those summaries to the original transcript.
Since the majority of the discovery appeared to be proceeding at a pace acceptable to the court, Canan asked that the defense's experts produce a report by Nov. 19, two weeks prior to the Dec. 3 hearing.