Albrecht Muth Ruled Competent, Will Represent Himself at Trial

Albrecht Muth is competent to stand trial for the murder of his wife, Viola Drath, Judge Russell Canan ruled Thursday.

Canan also accepted Muth’s repeat request to defend himself at his trial, which is set to begin March 25.

There will be no trial in March,” Muth stated during an exchange with the court about his decision to represent himself. He didn’t explain and the judge ignored the outburst.

Canan described Muth as “eccentric, unique, manipulative, (and) arrogant,” in issuing his competency decision.

He certainly has a unique personality, but that doesn’t make him incompetent to stand trial,” he said.

The judge said his ruling on Muth’s competence, which came after a hearing that lasted eight days and stretched over three weeks, was influenced by the testimony of Michele Godwin, a clinical psychologist who has been treating Muth at Saint Elizabeths Mental Hospital. Godwin and the hospital had previously said that Muth was incompetent, but changed their opinion in September.

Canan also referenced the “preponderance” of evidence in the case, which he said points to a conclusion that Muth is a talented liar and manipulator who has tried to convince mental health professionals that he is delusional.

Although he says he wants to be found competent, although he says he wants to go to trial, his actions speak otherwise,” Canan said. “The defendant’s conduct has been to create the illusion of a delusion.”

Muth has asserted that he is an Iraqi brigadier general, a claim he repeated in court Thursday, and has argued that his wife’s murder was an Iranian assassination attempt on him gone awry. During the hearing, defense attorneys argued that these assertions were signs that Muth suffered from a delusional disorder.

Canan said that two videotaped interviews with MPD detectives, one just before Muth’s arrest and one after, were “particularly informative” in his decision because they showed Muth arguing effectively about the weaknesses in the government’s case, which indicated that he had both a factual and a rational understanding of the case against him.

He made no mention of the theory that an Iranian hit squad killed his wife. This theory came later,” Canan said, indicating that he believed it was a ruse after Muth was “cornered” by detectives.

After Muth was found competent, Canan proceeded with his formal arraignment, a step that was not taken previously because Muth was considered incompetent when the Grand Jury indictment was handed down.

Muth said he wanted to defend himself because of “the incompetence of my counsel.” He asked the judge about the subpoena process and pledged, as he has before, to subpoena former Gen. David Petraeus to testify at his trial.

I only need General Petraeus in the chair,” Muth said.

During a series of questions about his decision to represent himself, Muth told the court that someone had promised him something if he chose to represent himself, but that he couldn’t divulge what was promised or who promised it. Canan asked him three times if he understood that this wasn’t cause for appealing any possible verdict down the road.

A status conference is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 9:30 a.m.

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