Jury Deliberations Begin in Albrecht Muth Murder Trial

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday in the high-profile case charging Georgetown man Albrecht Muth with the murder of his wife, socialite and journalist Viola Drath.

Closing arguments were heard in the case Wednesday and both prosecution and defense attorneys asked jurors to consider Muth’s character as well as the nature of his twenty-year marriage with Drath. But what his character was, and what that marriage was, they disagreed on.

“Muth was a manipulator,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Bach said. “He was a fraud.”

Countered defense attorney Dana Page, “A story of premeditation, a story of heinousness, a story drawing things out. But let’s be clear, none of it has anything to do with who did it.”

Muth, 49, is accused of first degree murder. Drath, 91, was found dead in their Georgetown home on August 12, 2011.

The weight of the prosecution’s case, which lasted the majority of the trial’s eight days, leaned on Muth’s history of violent behavior and his alleged need for money at the time of Drath’s death.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Bach painted Muth as a man of low moral character, who married Drath for her money and repeatedly assaulted her throughout their marriage. She also said Muth assumed different identities throughout his relationship with Drath, adding the title of “Count” in front of his name and purchasing an Iraqi general uniform online.

Bach told jurors that Muth murdered his wife after twenty years together because his “free ride” was “ending.”

Drath supported Muth financially throughout their marriage with a place to live and a monthly allowance. He was not expected to receive any inheritance after her death according to a prenuptial agreement.

Bach pointed to Muth’s email correspondences and online activity in the years leading to Drath’s death, which she said showed Muth was seeking to change the prenuptial agreements so that he could receive some of his wife’s estate.

Muth’s Google searches around the time of Drath’s death were found to include the words “pre-nuptials,” “extradition from Mexico” and “flights,” prosecutors said.

Muth’s attorneys rejected the government’s claims, reminding jurors that there were no eyewitnesses, or DNA or forensic evidence in the case.

Page said that the callous man depicted in the prosecution’s story doesn’t exist. Muth and Drath were “two peas in a pod,” she said. When they met twenty years ago, they shared a common goal of reshaping Drath’s public image, said Page.

The case turns not only on whether Muth is responsible for killing Drath, but whether he was intoxicated at the time of the alleged act.

The night of Drath’s death, Muth had been drinking with a man he had met on Craigslist. “Voluntary intoxication” can be a defense against first-degree murder if a person can prove that he or she was too drunk to have the intent to kill. In that case, however, the defendant can still be found guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Muth has been following the proceedings by video conference from his hospital bed at United Medical Center where he is being held. His health was ruled too fragile to allow him to be present in the courtroom due to a self-imposed fast. In sending jurors to deliberate, Judge Russell Canan told jurors not to read anything into the fact that Muth chose not to testify and could not, or would not, appear in his own defense.

Jury deliberations will resume Thursday morning at 9:30.

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