News & Politics

Albrecht Muth Back in DC Jail After Being Declared Competent to Stand Trial for Murder

He is charged with the beating death of wife Viola Drath.

Accused murderer Albrecht Muth today is back in the DC Jail after ten months of treatment
and evaluation at St. Elizabeths Hospital, where experts say he staged “illusions”
to try to convince Superior Court judge Russell F. Canan he was not mentally fit to
stand trial. It didn’t work. For those who have watched the case closely as it unfolded
and gone loop-de-loop a few times, it will come as no surprise that Canan on Thursday
ruled Muth mentally competent to stand trial and said he would like that trial to
begin in March.

It also won’t come as a surprise that Muth, charged with the beating death of his
wife, Viola Drath, wants to represent himself and subpoena former CIA director, General
David H. Petraeus, among other notables, as his character witness. While that plan
may seem counter to mental competency it’s also consistent with an analysis of Muth
by court-appointed forensic mental health experts, who in a report to Canan wrote:
“Mr. Muth knowingly traffics in illusions, not delusions; since incarceration . .
. he has been steadily trying to con everyone by creating the illusion of delusion.”
From the time of his initial arrest Muth has maintained that he is an Iraqi general,
operating at the highest levels of the Washington intelligence world, and that Drath
was killed by a hit squad who were after him.

Canan, who appears to be on to Muth, quoted the phrase “illusion of delusion” in the
hearing Thursday at which he made his competency ruling, ordered Muth returned to
the DC Department of Corrections and set a February 21 date for the next court hearing
before trial. A spokesperson at Saint Elizabeths today said Muth did not return to
the hospital after the Thursday hearing, and the DC Department of Corrections said
he is back in their custody.

Drath was found bludgeoned to death in August 2011 in an
upstairs bathroom of the
Georgetown house she shared with her husband of almost 22
years. At the time they
married she was 70 years old and he was 26. Police arrested and
charged him within
a few days of the murder. A few months later, locked up at the
DC Jail, he went on
a hunger strike that he said was ordered by the archangel
Gabriel, who he claimed
“spoke” to him. He also told the court he wanted to fire his
public defenders and
act as his own lawyer. Suffering from dehydration due to the
hunger strike, he was
transferred to the United Medical Center, where doctors said
they thought he suffered
from psychosis, which prompted Canan to transfer him to St.
Elizabeths for more thorough


In late summer of this year, Canan received
reports from forensic psychologist Mitchell
H. Hugonnet and forensic psychiatrist Robert T. M. Phillips. Both

were appointed by the government and spent hours with Muth,
putting him through a
range of tests. The analysis also included interviews with
Viola Drath’s family. Phillips,
addressing his fasting and erratic behavior, wrote, “These
episodes of fasting seem
manipulative and are not likely the result of psychotic
process. . . . [His] retreat
to fasting causes dehydration and hospitalization, resulting in
both attention via
the sick role and potential delay in adjudication.” The report
also quoted a social
worker who said Muth was confident he would be spared a trial
and instead be a “civilly
committed outpatient.”

Doctors at Saint Elizabeths, who have fluctuated in their analyses of Muth’s condition,
ultimately came down on the side of competency. A clinical psychologist working for
the defense earlier testified that Muth was incompetent and suffered from “delusional

At the hearing Thursday, where he was represented by public defender Dana Page, Muth
told Canan he still planned to fire her and be his own lawyer. Thus it will be interesting
to see who shows up in Canan’s courtroom on February 21.

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