Jason Cain, a man who lived in Viola Drath’s Q Street home 18 months before she was murdered, testified Tuesday in DC Superior Court about her accused murderer Albrecht Muth's self-proclaimed "influence operations."
Albrecht Muth is in DC Superior Court this week for a competency hearing; he was indicted earlier this year for the murder of his wife.
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Cain, a former army logistics specialist, first came into contact with Muth in 2009 just before he left for his final tour in Iraq. He was looking for a place to stay while he participated in a program at Georgetown University and found a listing for a room for rent in Muth's Q Street home.
He lived with Muth and Drath in January and February of 2010. The rent was $800 cash paid directly to Muth.
Cain said via email Muth seemed normal and when Muth spoke of his strong ties to the United Nations and other influential individuals, "early on...I believed him."
Cain even accepted an internship with Muth, helping him organize a ceremony for Muth's newly-formed Commission on Universal Remembrance.
Using his ties from his 10 years of service in the Army, Cain arranged for his friend Qubad Talabani, who is the son of the Iraqi Prime Minister and was heading the Kurdish office in DC, to attend a joint event at Arlington National Cemetery. Talabani organized a delegation to come to the United States from Iraq to attend the Commission on Universal Remembrance event.
One night, Muth sat down with Cain to explain how to be an "agent provacteur," as Muth described himself.
In the recording played in court Tuesday, Muth is heard expounding on how he would create a new identity for himself, like Count Albi or Sheik Ali, in order to gain the confidence of important people.
"Another influence operation. Complete fabrication," Muth said in the recordings.
The longer he interned and lived with Muth, the more Cain felt Muth's "language and demeanor was deceitful."
After two months of living with Muth and Drath, Cain moved out and stopped helping with the commission.
"I had to back away," said Cain. "It took me longer than it should have."
Cain even called Talabani to tell him that he would no longer be involved in the ceremony at Arlington, subtly suggesting the Iraqis should back away, too. But by then it was too late to cancel the delegation. The event happened in April 2010.
"It was his next way of bringing together a group of prominent people for what, on the surface, was a good purpose," said Cain of the commission.
The organization, Cain later surmised was just Muth's latest attempt to "raise his profile."
Public defender Dana Page's line of questioning focused on Muth's assertions that he is a spy or intelligence officer of some sort.
Cain, however, said Muth never directly said he was a spy, but would merely hint at it.
The defense moved to have Cain's testimony removed from the record because the prosecution had not provided the email conversations between Cain and Muth. But the prosecution argued that since the emails were on the hard drive given to the defense, they defense had the records in their possession.
Judge Russel F. Canan allowed the testimony to stand and told Page that they could re-call Cain if she found information in the email records that required additional questioning.
The competency hearing continues Wednesday and Thursday.
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