A D.C. Superior Court judge told attorneys Thursday to be prepared with their respective expert reports for a September hearing to determine whether Albrecht Muth is mentally competent to stand trial in the murder of his wife, Viola Drath.
Judge Russell Canan made the decision after both sides of the case lobbied for more time to make their respective determinations about the man who regularly wore a military costume before he was arrested, and has requested the aid of at least one high-ranking U.S. military official for his defense strategy.
Judge Canan also set a December backup trial date in anticipation of the court proceedings extending past the initially planned October trial date. When one of Mr. Muth's attorneys deemed December "ineffective," the judge also added a March 2013 date.
There's absolutely no way for us to be ready for a trial this complicated," said attorney Dana Page, who said last month that she would be prepared to fight any claims made by the prosecution that Mr. Muth is mentally competent.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner told Judge Canan on Thursday that the prosecution's medical experts may find 48-year-old Mr. Muth competent when they finalize their reports in the next few weeks.
"That's the track the government believes we're on," Mr. Kirschner said during Thursday's hearing for Mr. Muth, who's been a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital since February, after he attempted to starve himself and told officials he was communicating with angels.
Mr. Muth's mental state has been the subject of months of debate in Superior Court, resulting in the case's failure to progress while doctors work to determine whether he is mentally capable.
Since his arrest, Mr. Muth has maintained that his 91-year-old wife's death was the result of Iranian government agents attempting to murder him. Drath's autopsy report points to a possible strangulation.
In the most recent letter sent to the court July 24 by St. Elizabeths CEO Patrick Canavan, he requested that additional information such as "interviews with family members ... Mr. Muth's employment history, journal entries" be provided to help with the determination of Mr. Muth's sanity. According to hospital doctors, Mr. Muth is currently diagnosed with multiple disorders that can cause him to have a hard time grasping reality, and make him feel as though he is being targeted or persecuted.
On Thursday, Mr. Muth spoke only once to greet Judge Canan, and wore the same light tan shirt and pants that he wore last month.
During the hearing, Mr. Kirschner told the court that he had submitted the majority of evidence to the defense team in an effort to keep the case moving forward. He described some of the material, including more than 1,000 documents, as "voluminous." He promised any other outstanding reports or information would also be turned over to the defense team.
Mr. Kirschner said he is also working with St. Elizabeths to provide information, including arranging interviews with Mr. Muth's family members, which he said were scheduled for Thursday after the hearing.
"We've offered to provide anything and everything they might need from us, Mr. Kirschner said.
Craig Hicken, the second attorney for Mr. Muth, told Judge Canan on Thursday that he and Ms. Page "were concerned about Mr. Muth's competency," and that their visits with him are "always clouded by his delusions."
St. Elizabeths doctors have stated that, while Mr. Muth has a good understanding of court proceedings, he maintains his belief about an assassination attempt gone wrong. He has requested the aid of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his "Iranian brothers."
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