Prosecutors in the case charging Albrecht Muth with the August 2011 death of his 91-year-old wife, Viola Herms Drath, have argued at trial that Drath’s murder was the culmination of years of domestic abuse by Muth.
Thursday was the third day of testimony that is expected to last two to three weeks. Muth’s defense has not yet presented their case.
On Thursday, government witnesses testified that Muth verbally and physically abused Drath in their Georgetown home.
Christopher Barnett, who lived in the same Georgetown neighborhood, said that a few days before Drath died he witnessed Muth lay his hands on Drath at the couple’s home.
Barnett, an Army officer stationed at Fort Meyer, also said that while walking his dog in Glover Park he would often see Muth walking up and down the street posing as an Iraqi general and wearing a fake Iraqi Army uniform.
Barnett said he supplemented his Army income by fixing computers and laptops for money and had been called by Muth to fix his computer. When Barnett arrived at the house, Drath answered the door and lead him to Muth.
Muth lead Barnett to a room, handed over his laptop, and asked him to free up the memory to make the computer go faster, Barnett said.
As Barnett worked on the laptop, Drath walked in the room with a tray of beverages, offering him something to drink. Barnett declined, and soon Muth became “irate” screaming profanity at Drath in German and English.
“He was saying f*** and sh**, and you’re useless, get out of my business,” Barnett said Thursday.
Barnett told jurors Muth then pushed Drath with two hands, attempting to get her out of the room. Drath then fell back hitting her elbow on a doorway. She then walked away and began to read a book, Barnett said.
Muth paid Barnett and asked him to come back a second time. Barnett said Muth again yelled profanities at Drath.
Drath’s grandson, Ethan, told jurors that in May 2006 his grandmother had phoned him. He described her as “frantic.”
“She was upset on the verge of hysterics,” Ethan Drath said. “There was an incident between her and Mr. Muth, and she wanted me to go to her house.”
When Ethan Drath arrived at the Georgetown home, his grandmother answered the door with her hair wet from soup, he said.
According to Ethan Drath, Viola Drath told him that she got in a verbal argument with Muth during dinner. The altercation escalated when Muth began to throw food at her, including his soup. He broke plates, chairs and glasses before getting into a “shoving match,” with her, Ethan Drath said Viola Drath told him.
Ethan Drath said Muth was not home when he arrived and he took his grandmother to his aunt’s house nearby. He did not report the incident to police until Aug. 15, 2011, three days after Viola Drath’s death.
The trial is scheduled to continue Monday, January 13 with Judge Russell Canan.