For more than nine months a self-induced fast has prevented Albrecht Muth from attending court hearings in a case charging him with the death of his 91-year-old wife, Viola Herms Drath. On Thursday, Judge Russell Canan ordered that the case against Muth will proceed to trial without Muth present.
“Mr. Muth you are knowingly, intelligibly, and voluntarily waiving your right to be present at trial,” Judge Canan said to Muth, who entered his presence by phone. “It is my hope, though, that you begin eating and drinking again to be physically ready for trial.”
Muth responded to the court’s ruling Thursday in a diatribe defending his self-proclaimed military service and refusal to end the fast. He also urged Judge Canan and counsel to “recuse yourselves from this case.”
“You have blocked me at every turn to deny General Petraeus and prime minister delegates from testifying,” Muth said over the phone. “Breaking the fast is not an option, I have been told by the Holy Father and it is passed upon me by St. Gabriel.”
Muth, 49, is charged with first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances in the death of Drath, a Georgetown socialite who was found on August 12, 2011 beaten and strangled in her own home.
According to court documents, in December 2012 Muth was found competent to stand trial, but has since remained in what doctors call a “self-induced starvation.”
Muth is currently being held at the United Medical Center. His physician, Dr. Russom Ghebrai, told the court Thursday that Muth’s condition is “progressively getting worst” and that he currently weighs 92 pounds.
“His body is moving at a minimum requirement, and he is getting weaker and weaker,” Ghebrai said. “To be physically better it would take two to three weeks of treatment. But at this point he refuses treatment.”
The case is scheduled for a trial readiness hearing on November 26.