Muth’s Hunger Strikes Result in Waiving Right to be Present
The hunger strikes of Albrecht Muth, accused of murdering his wife, Washington socialite and Georgetown resident Viola Drath, are serving to be useful for the prosecution.
The Associated Press first reported that prosecutors in the case have advised that D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan see Muth’s hunger strikes as a knowing waiver of his right to be present at his trial.
A veteran journalist and married previously to an Army colonel, Viola Drath was found dead in a bathroom of her home on Q Street -- which is now up for sale -- in August 2011 after being strangled and beaten at age 91. She and Muth were known around town for their dinner parties at her home with a mix of political, diplomatic, military and media VIPs. Drath was 44 years older than Muth.
Seen around Georgetown in faux military garb, Muth was perceived by neighbors and shopkeepers as, simply, a oddball. In recent years, he said that he was a member of the Iraqi Army. He went so far as to have arranged a 2010 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for Iraqi Liberation Day.
Muth has been on periodic hunger strikes in a mental asylum cell. His hunger strikes began in December after he was ruled competent to stand trial. In March of this year, a doctor deemed Muth too weak to stand trial. The trial was postponed indefinitely.
Now with the ruling that Muth does not have to be present in order for his trial to proceed, details behind Drath’s mysterious murder will likely come to light.
The trial in the murder of Drath is set to begin in December, more than two years after her death and the arrest of Muth. The charge against Muth is that of second-degree murder in the death of Drath.