FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Albrecht Muth Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder
In 2011 Slaying of His 91-Year-Old Wife
-Slaying Followed History of Domestic Violence-
WASHINGTON – Albrecht Muth, 49, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty today of first-degree murder in the slaying of his wife, 91-year-old Viola Drath, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Muth, who has taken on numerous personas over the years, including that of an Iraqi Army general, was found guilty by a jury following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The jury found Muth guilty of first-degree (premeditated) murder with the aggravating circumstances that the murder was especially heinous, cruel, and inflicted on a vulnerable victim. Muth faces a maximum sentence of life without parole. The Honorable Russell F. Canan scheduled sentencing for March 19, 2014.
The trial took place without the defendant present in the courtroom. Muth, who has been in custody since his arrest in August 2011, has been hospitalized after staging a series of hunger strikes dating to December of 2012. His refusal of regular sustenance has caused his physical health to deteriorate and resulted in the hospitalization. The government contended that his refusal to eat was part of a manipulation designed to avoid trial. Muth was able to listen to and participate in the court proceedings, out of view of the jury, via a video link to the courtroom.
“Albrecht Muth has pretended to be an Iraqi general, a Count, and an East German spy, but in truth he is a cold-blooded killer who strangled his elderly wife to death,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Even as this trial approached, he tried to manipulate the system through on-and-off fasts designed to avoid facing justice for his terrible crime. This jury saw right through Albrecht Muth’s elaborate web of lies and held him accountable for his brutality.”
“With today’s conviction, Albrecht Muth must now face the consequences of his violent crime,” said Chief Lanier. “I applaud the hard-working members of this department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in helping to make today’s conviction possible.”
According to the government’s evidence, on the morning of Aug. 12, 2011, Muth called 911 and reported that Ms. Drath was dead on the bathroom floor of their home in the 3200 block of Q Street NW. The District of Columbia Office of the Medical Examiner determined that Ms. Drath’s death was caused by strangulation and blunt force injuries.
On the evening of Aug. 11, 2011, the government’s evidence showed, Muth had been drinking. Witnesses indicated that Muth became progressively louder and somewhat belligerent during the course of the evening. A witness escorted Muth to the house on Q Street and saw him walking down the stairwell to the basement of his residence at approximately 10 p.m.
In the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2011, a witness heard a woman’s faint cry and a man’s laugh emanating from inside the defendant’s home. Then, at approximately 7:56 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2011, Muth made the call to 911. When MPD officers arrived, there were no signs of forced entry into the house and nothing was taken or disturbed. According to the defendant, only he and Ms. Drath had keys to the house. Also according to the defendant, he and his wife were the only two people present in the home during the previous evening.
During the trial, the government presented evidence of a documented history of domestic violence by the defendant against his wife. In addition, Muth had made a number of statements over the years indicating a desire to kill her. By the summer of 2011, Ms. Drath had enough of the defendant’s abuse and was trying to end the marriage. Also, despite the fact that Ms. Drath specifically disinherited Muth in her will, he regularly pressured her for money. After killing the victim, and before her body was removed from the home, Muth presented a fraudulent document to the daughter of the victim demanding $200,000.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier recognized the outstanding efforts of the detectives, evidence technicians, and officers who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They expressed appreciation to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections for its assistance in the matter. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin O. Lyons, who assisted in the investigation; Paralegal Specialist Meridith McGarrity; Investigative Analysts Lawrence Grasso and Zachary McMenamin; Criminal Investigator John Marsh; Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling, and Maria Shumar and David Foster of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glenn Kirschner and Laura Bach, who tried the case.