As the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death approaches, Albrecht Muth remains mentally incompetent to stand trial and is, for the time being, destined to remain in psychiatric custody at St Elisabeths.
Muth, 48, made a rare court appearance Thursday for a hearing on his mental health and ability to stand trial. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Viola Drath. He has not been arraigned on the charge because doctors have found him to be temporarily incompetent for trial.
While reports from St Elizabeths suggest that Muth may be able to stand trial in the future, reports from independent experts hired by prosecutors and defense attorneys are likely to offer differing opinions. Prosecutors anticipate that their experts will find Muth competent and defense attorneys anticipate that theirs will not.
Drath, 91, was killed in her Goergetown home Aug 12, 2011. Prosecutors say Muth strangled Drath, then reported finding her dead of an apparent fall.
Muth had been diagnosed with Delusional Disorder, Persecutory Type, and Schizotypla Personality Disorder. In their most recent report to the court, Muth’s doctors said he continues to recieve medication and treatment for these illnesses and that it remains possible for Muth to regain the competency required to proceed to trial.
St Elizabeths determination is just one the court will weigh in deciding whether or not Muth will proceed to trial; reports from independent experts on behalf of the prosecution and defense are expected as well. Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told the court Thursday that he anticipated the government’s expert would find Muth competent. Muth’s defense attorneys told the court that they anticipated their experts would not find Muth competent.
Dressed in khaki-colored pants and a dress shirt for his court appearance Thursday, Muth showed none of the eccentricities he’s exhibited at past appointments.
At a court appearance in November, Muth repeatedly told the court that he was connected with the Iraqi military and said that Drath’s death was a “hit” by “Iranian agents.” At that hearing he asked that his court matters be discussed only in closed sessions because the hearings could involve the disclosures of government secrets.
At his preliminary hearing in September, Muth read a document to the court listing grievances he had with his trial, starting with a claim that the trial against him was in contempt of the Geneva Convention. Muth also opposed his treatment at D.C. Jail, saying his treatment there went against his constitutional rights.
Thursday, Muth’s only statements were to greet Judge Russell Canan and, at the end of the hearing, to thank him.
Muth is due back in court Sept. 6, at which time mental health reports from St Elizabeths, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are expected to be in.