Doc­tor: Muth could be fak­ing psy­chosis

Judge or­ders more com­pe­tency tests

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro -

A D.C. Su­pe­rior Court judge on Wed­nes­day or­dered fur­ther psy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing to de­ter­mine whether a man who says his 91-year-old wife’s Au­gust death was the re­sult of a “hit by the Ira­nian Army” is com­pe­tent to stand trial on a first-de­gree mur­der charge.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Al­brecht Muth, 47, demon­strated to med­i­cal ex­perts that he un­der­stood court pro­ceed­ings, but his “un­usual be­liefs about his crim­i­nal case and where he be­lieved the fo­cus of his de­fense should be” in­di­cated that he was “cur­rently in­com­pe­tent to pro­ceed” with a trial in the death of his wife, Vi­ola Drath.

“He de­scribed an ef­fort fol­low­ing his ar­rest to ‘alert the United States’ that this was oc­cur­ring and that he wanted the United States ‘to re­lease the CIA files,’ ” Pa­trick Cana­van, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at St. El­iz­a­beths Hospi­tal, said in a writ­ten men­tal eval­u­a­tion. “Many of the thoughts that Mr. Muth expressed could be the re­sult of sev­eral fac­tors to in­clude gen­uine psy­chosis or feigned psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­cesses in or­der to avoid pros­e­cu­tion.”

On Wed­nes­day, Mr. Muth ap­peared in court wear­ing a navy and red gym suit, a far cry from the camel-col­ored mil­i­tary-style uni­form neigh­bors fre­quently saw him in when walk­ing around the Ge­orge­town neigh­bor­hood where he lived with his wife.

Mr. Muth did not speak dur­ing the hear­ing, although he ac­knowl­edged with a nod and slight bow the or­der that he re­turn to court April 25 for an­other men­tal-health up­date.

In mid-au­gust, Mr. Muth called po­lice to the cou­ple’s Ge­orge­town row house, where Drath was found in a bathroom. Her in­juries in­di­cated stran­gu­la­tion, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors even­tu­ally traced ev­i­dence back to her much-younger hus­band. He was ar­rested days later on charges of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, but last week he was in­dicted on a first-de­gree mur­der charge, which car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of life in prison.

In re­cent months, Mr. Muth be­gan be­hav­ing er­rat­i­cally, in­clud­ing claim­ing he was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with an­gels and go­ing on a lengthy hunger strike at the D.C. Jail that led to his Feb. 15 ad­mis­sion to St. El­iz­a­beths.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2 page eval­u­a­tion, Mr. Muth con­firmed to doc­tors that he un­der­stood ba­sic court pro­ceed­ings such as plea op­tions, and the po­si­tions and roles of court of­fi­cials dur­ing a trial. The eval­u­at­ing doc­tors also de­ter­mined that Mr. Muth was fa­mil­iar with the events of his wife’s death, but that when it came to specifics of a trial in­volv­ing him­self, they noted “skep­ti­cism” and “in­flex­i­bil­ity,” and Mr. Muth expressed dis­plea­sure with his cur­rent le­gal coun­sel.

They noted a “sub­stan­tial prob­a­bil­ity” that Mr. Muth will be­come com­pe­tent for the trial, which is sched­uled for Oct. 9.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, Judge Rus­sell F. Canan ac­knowl­edged Mr. Muth’s con­tin­ued de­sire to rep­re­sent him­self, and he en­cour­aged Mr. Muth to work with ex­perts at the hospi­tal.

“I’m sure you have an in­ter­est in get­ting this case back on track,” he said.

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