A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered an additional two months of mental health treatment for Albrecht Muth, based on the recommendations of doctors tasked with determining whether he is competent to stand trial in the killing of his 91-year-old wife.
According to a report filed with the court by St. Elizabeths CEO Patrick Canavan, Mr. Muth is currently incompetent to continue with his case, but “there is a probability that he will attain competence or make progress toward that goal with an additional period of time.”
Mr. Muth, 47, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the August death of his wife, journalist and socialite Viola Drath. Drath was found in the couple’s Georgetown home in August with what officials said were injuries consistent with strangulation.
Mr. Muth faces life in prison if convicted. He appeared in court handcuffed, wearing the same navy blue and red sweat suit he wore to a similar mental health observation hearing last month. He did little more than nod his agreement in answer to Judge Russell F. Canan’s questions and to say, “Good morning, your honor,” at the beginning of the hearing.
One of Drath’s daughters and a grandson were in attendance, but left quickly after the hearing.
Judge Canan also granted a request to allow the prosecution to appoint doctors to evaluate Mr. Muth.
“It certainly seems reasonable to have either side have testing and evaluation done on Mr. Muth,” Judge Canan said.
Mr. Canavan stated in his report that Mr. Muth understood the charges against him and the penalties for those charges, but that he lacks a rational understanding of the proceedings. He continues, for example, to insist that Drath was killed by agents of the Iranian government.
Mr. Muth was admitted to St. Elizabeths on Feb. 15, after he went on a hunger strike and claimed he was communicating with angels.
Prior to his incarceration, Mr. Muth also exhibited unusual behavior.
During the couple’s 20-year marriage, he often dressed in military garb and presented himself to acquaintances as a secret agent, a diplomat or a staff brigadier general with the Iraqi army. He also went by the name Sheik Ali Al-Muthaba and blogged about Middle Eastern military issues, including those relating to Iraq.
The couple’s relationship was marked by other incidents of violence. In 1992, Mr. Muth pleaded guilty to simple assault against wife, and in 2006, an argument between the couple ended with him hitting Drath with a chair.
Mr. Muth has been in custody since mid-August, just days after he called police to report that he had found his wife unresponsive in a bathroom of their Georgetown row house.