Days Before Scheduled Trial, Muth Still Physically Unable to Attend

One year into an on-again-off-again hunger strike, murder defendant Albrecht Muth is preparing for a trial that he insisted would never happen by chewing food that meets his “dietary regimen.”

Muth is charged with the death of his wife Viola Drath, who was killed in August 2011. The trial has been delayed in part because of Muth’s prolonged fast, but on Thursday Judge Russell reaffirmed his intention to try Muth on January 6.

Muth’s fast has left him unable to attend court proceedings since February 2013.

At a status hearing Thursday, Doctor Gilbert Daniel, told the court that Muth now chews food and spits it out when it doesn’t correspond with his “dietary regimen given to him by the Angel Gabriel.”

Daniel said Muth claims that the diet is to help him for his trial “at the end of January.” Daniel said that he has passed on the requests to the nutritional team and that the team tries to accommodate him “as much as possible.”

Generally, Muth has been “eating more than usual” since December 25, though he still can’t sit up on his own, said Daniel. He added that Muth does not seem to have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, explaining that Muth “drifts off” when spoken to. Daniel said that he does not believe Muth could watch video of the trial all day without losing concentration.

Daniel suggested it would take “at least two months” for Muth to regain physical control of his body and the ability to concentrate. Otherwise, Muth’s body chemistry and internal functions are “doing fine,” according to Daniel. “It’s unusual that someone can maintain this body chemistry for so long,” Daniel added.

Judge Canan explained his decision to proceed, saying that Muth has been warned often against “deliberate manipulation of the system” and “advised repeatedly of the fact that his conduct could result in this court proceeding in his absence.” Canan also ruled that Muth would not be continuously visible to jurors during the trial, though Muth will be able to watch and listen to video proceeding.

Muth may still appear before jurors via video conference if he exercises his right to testify.

Opening arguments are expected to begin on January 7.

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