TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Half-century-younger husband's murder trial starts

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 9:24 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A German man who masqueraded as an Army general was accused by a prosecutor at his murder trial on Tuesday of choking his elderly wife to death, searching online for escape plans and claiming to be entitled to part of the socialite's estate even though she had disinherited him.

Albrecht Muth's lawyer said during opening statements that his client is innocent and that prosecutors have no evidence linking him to the death of the 91-year-old victim.

Charged with first-degree murder, Muth could face life in prison if convicted.

“Albrecht Muth didn't kill his wife. The government has their theory, but that's all it is — a theory,” attorney Craig Hickein said. “And they can't prove that he did it because he didn't.”

Muth, 49, is standing trial 21⁄2 years after Viola Drath, a German journalist and playwright, was found strangled and fatally beaten in the couple's row home in Washington's posh Georgetown neighborhood.

The death brought an end to a marriage marred by Muth's angry outbursts, occasional acts of violence and side relationships he had with other men, prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said.

Muth pleaded guilty to assaulting Drath in 1992, and she called her grandson in 2006 to report that he had attacked her and dumped a bowl of soup on her head during a fight, Kirschner said.

“This murder was a very long time coming,” he told jurors in D.C. Superior Court.

The unusual relationship — the couple wed in 1990 — united a socialite well-known in diplomatic and political circles with a fellow expatriate nearly half a century younger.

Muth latched onto Drath's social connections, inventing various personas for himself — including false claims of being a brigadier general in the Iraqi army. He was known to stroll the neighborhood in a purchased military-style uniform. Drath's daughter, Fran Drath, testified that Muth, curiously, was wearing an eye patch when she met him.

Those eccentricities continued even after Muth's arrest. His self-imposed bouts of starvation for what he says are religious reasons have resulted in long hospital stays and his absence from the trial. He fought unsuccessfully to wear a military-style uniform to court and to subpoena former CIA Director David Petraeus as a potential witness.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Hearing to determine fate of sergeant accused of killing 2 deaf Iraqi youths
  2. Precautions lack year since fatal blast at plant
  3. Mumps outbreak among Ohio’s largest
  4. Mo. mayor steps down over anti-Semitic comments
  5. Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
  6. Senator pitches gasoline tax increase
  7. Images best of readied D-Day ships
  8. 69% back birth control mandate
  9. Obama surveys mudslide devastation
  10. Little toxicity data exists for tainted W.Va. water
  11. Justices uphold Michigan ban on affirmative action, giving states room to maneuver
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.