Judge rules that Albrecht Muth cannot represent himself due to failing health
After originally ruling that Albrecht Muth was competent to stand trial and proceed pro se, DC Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan has now determined that Muth cannot adequately represent himself due to pressing health concerns. Judge Canan’s decision means that public defenders will be reinstituted as the attorneys of record. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 7th.
Muth, 47, charged with first degree murder in the August 2011 death of his late wife Viola Drath and scheduled to appear at trial on March 25th, is facing serious health issues due to a self-imposed fast that began on December 20th. Dr. Russom Ghebrai, a physician at United Medical Center where Muth is hospitalized, testified that Muth “has no muscle mass. He is just skin and bones.” Ghebrai also testified that Muth faced an “imminent risk of sudden death.”
Judge Canan, citing Muth’s health concerns and the fact that he “voluntarily put himself in this position,” decided to retract his earlier determination on the murder suspect’s pro se status, as opposed to delaying the trial until Muth’s physical condition improved. Judge Canan reasoned that he wouldn’t let Muth “manipulate the legal and medical system” in such a manner.
Drath was found bludgeoned to death in the second-story bathroom of the home she shared with Muth on Q Street NW in Washington D.C.
Muth initially told authorities that his wife died from a fall, but a subsequent autopsy ruled her death a homicide from blunt force trauma and strangulation. The self-proclaimed military expert then changed his story and told police her death was the result of a failed assassination attempt by Iranian agents that was aimed at him.
Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial
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