Albrecht Muth is currently mentally and physically incapable of representing himself against charges involving the death of 91-year-old Georgetown socialite Viola Herms Drath, Judge Russell Canan said today.
Muth was not at today’s felony status hearing as he was hospitalized again last night. Canan said Muth will be in a grave situation if his current medical status does not change and that further examination is ongoing.
“I was told enough information by the medical director … to give the court sufficient concern over his [Muth’s] mental ability and physical ability to proceed” as his own counsel, Canan said.
Drath, 91, was found dead in her Georgetown home in August, the victim of an apparent beating. Muth, 47, was her husband. He has maintained his innocence against the charge of second-degree murder and has protested his treatment at D.C. jail. He has not been indicted on any charge.
Muth was previously hospitalized this winter and returned to the jail yesterday. He was sent back to United Medical Center last night, Canan said after speaking with the Department of Corrections over the phone during today’s hearing.
Muth has been on a hunger strike since November. Canan did not say whether Muth’s re-hospitalization was related to his hunger strike.
“It is not the intent of the court to deprive him of his right [to represent himself], but the court feels it has no other option,” Canan said.
The judge temporarily sealed his conversation with the medical director, as well as his subsequent conversation with counsels for both sides of the case, at the request of the defense.
The conversations may be available in the future, however, as Canan said Muth had placed his mental and physical status in the open by representing himself.
“I think it’s arguable that all of it should be on the record,” Canan said.
The court did not yet consider whether Muth is able to stand trial, as Canan said Muth’s right to represent himself was different from his right to stand trial and understand the charges presented against him.
Muth has not yet been indicted on any charge and is scheduled for an arraignment March 9 at 9:30 a.m.