At a hearing on Wednesday, Judge Russell Canan asked Muth to end his fast. Muth replied that he would not.
“I do not have the authority to break my fast,” he said, adding that he was fasting on “the authority of St. Gabriel.”
Muth did say that he would “ask for permission to break the fast”, though ultimately, he promised to “follow holy orders”.
Muth, 49, has been in a self-induced fast for nearly a year that has left him unable to attend court proceedings for approximately 11 months.
He is charged with first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances in Drath’s death. She was found dead on August 12, 2011, beaten and strangled in her home.
Muth is not expected to appear physically in court. His health has been severely impacted by his fast and prosecutors said Wednesday that it is still difficult for Muth to move or sit up.
Muth will have video and audio access to his trial, though Judge Canan noted “it is not my intent that the jury can see him.”
Muth’s defense attorney Dana Page expressed concerns that if the trial is conducted via a video conference, any issues that Muth has during trial would not be confidential because of the technical staff that would be present with Muth.
Judge Canan agreed that Muth was “entitled to privacy” and suggested that that the defense could have someone present with Muth or that Muth could have a separate phone to call his attorneys during trial.
A hearing is set for January 2 to ensure that the technical elements for Muth’s trial are functional.