Albrecht Muth Sentenced to 50 Years for Killing his Elderly Wife Viola Drath

The criminal case against Albrecht Muth concluded Wednesday when Judge Russell Canan sentenced him to 50 years in prison for the death of his 91-year-old wife, Viola Herms Drath.

Muth, now 49, was convicted in January of first-degree premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances. On Wednesday, he participated in his sentencing via video conference as he lay in a hospital bed, still too weak to attend court because of his prolonged fast.

Drath’s two daughters did not address the court but provided impact statements to Judge Canan before sentencing.

I miss my mother…her wisdom, her advice, her assessment of political developments, foreign affairs…I miss her visits to my home in California,” wrote Drath’s daughter Connie Drath Dwyer.

In the presentencing report, prosecutors say another daughter, Fran Drath, finds herself “trying to navigate a world that is unrecognizable.”

Before delivering his sentence, Judge Canan said, “[Drath] should have passed away surrounded by her family, not tortured to death by Mr. Muth in the middle of the night.”

Police found Drath on the morning of Aug. 12, 2011 in her home at the 3200 block of Q Street Northwest after Muth called 911, prosecutors say. Muth was arrested a few days later and originally charged with second degree murder.

At trial, prosecutors presented evidence of emails between Drath and Muth, including some that Muth annotated.

In one email, Drath wrote, “I can and will no longer take it. I have been useful to you and you have enlivened my life to some degree.”

Medical examiner Dr. Carolyn Revercomb testified that Drath suffered from rib fractures, cuts to the body and head, and clear signs of strangulation which resulted in her death.

During sentencing, prosecutors noted domestic violence incidents dating back to 1992 when 26-years-old Muth punched Drath, then 72-years-old, repeatedly in the face because she interrupted a phone call he was in.

Prosecutors also mentioned that Muth has taken on numerous personas over the years, including that of an Iraqi Army general and during court called him a, “manipulative liar.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glenn Kirschner requested that Judge Canan sentence Muth to life without the possibility of release.

“We ask the court for something that ensures Muth will not be out in the community looking for his next victim,” Kirschner said.

Before he delivered Muth’s sentence, Judge Canan called Muth “a common serial domestic violence abuser,” adding that Muth’s persona of a fasting “religious relic” was “a transparent attempt to avoid trial.”

A press release from the United States Attorney’s office has been added below.

Albrecht Muth Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison
For 2011 Slaying of His 91-Year-Old Wife

-Slaying Followed History of Domestic Violence-

WASHINGTON – Albrecht Muth, 49, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 50 years in prison for first-degree murder in the slaying of his wife, 91-year-old Viola Drath, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Muth, who has taken on numerous personas over the years, including that of an Iraqi Army general, was found guilty in January 2014 by a jury following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The jury found Muth guilty of first-degree (premeditated) murder with the aggravating circumstances that the murder was especially heinous, cruel, and inflicted on a vulnerable victim. Muth was sentenced by the Honorable Russell F. Canan.

The sentencing, like the trial, took place without the defendant present in the courtroom. Muth, who has been in custody since his arrest in August 2011, has been hospitalized after staging a series of hunger strikes dating to December of 2012. His refusal of regular sustenance has caused his physical health to deteriorate and resulted in the hospitalization. The government contended that Muth’s refusal to eat was part of a manipulation designed to avoid trial. Muth was able to listen to and participate in the trial proceedings, out of view of the jury, via a video link to the courtroom. Likewise, he was able to listen to and participate in today’s sentencing that way.

At sentencing today, Judge Canan declared that the evidence against Muth was “overwhelming” and that his refusal to eat was “a transparent attempt to avoid prosecution.”

“Albrecht Muth’s 20 years of violence toward his wife ended only when he strangled her to death in their Georgetown home,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “For the rest of his life, Muth won’t be able to masquerade as a military officer or member of a royal family while subjecting his wife to intolerable abuse. He will be a federal inmate paying the price for his brutal crime.”

“This was a tragic ending to an abusive relationship,” said Police Chief Lanier. “In addition to killing the victim, the defendant also further victimized her family by attempting to defraud the family out of a large sum of money. We hope this sentencing offers the family some sense of solace that these acts did not go unpunished.”

According to the government’s evidence, on the morning of Aug. 12, 2011, Muth called 911 and reported that Ms. Drath was dead on the bathroom floor of their home in the 3200 block of Q Street NW. The District of Columbia Office of the Medical Examiner determined that Ms. Drath’s death was caused by strangulation and blunt force injuries.

On the evening of Aug. 11, 2011, the government’s evidence showed, Muth had been drinking. Witnesses indicated that Muth became progressively louder and somewhat belligerent during the course of the evening. A witness escorted Muth to the house on Q Street and saw him walking down the stairwell to the basement of his residence at approximately 10 p.m.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2011, a witness heard a woman’s faint cry and a man’s laugh emanating from inside the defendant’s home. Then, at approximately 7:56 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2011, Muth made the call to 911. When MPD officers arrived, there were no signs of forced entry into the house and nothing was taken or disturbed. According to the defendant, only he and Ms. Drath had keys to the house. Also according to the defendant, he and his wife were the only two people present in the home during the previous evening.

During the trial, the government presented evidence of a documented history of domestic violence by the defendant against his wife. In addition, Muth had made a number of statements over the years indicating a desire to kill her. By the summer of 2011, Ms. Drath had enough of the defendant’s abuse and was trying to end the marriage. Also, despite the fact that Ms. Drath specifically disinherited Muth in her will, he regularly pressured her for money. After killing the victim, and before her body was removed from the home, Muth presented a fraudulent document to the daughter of the victim demanding $200,000.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier recognized the outstanding efforts of the detectives, evidence technicians, and officers who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. They expressed appreciation to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections for its assistance in the matter. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin O. Lyons, who assisted in the investigation; Paralegal Specialist Meridith McGarrity; Investigative Analyst Zachary McMenamin; former Investigative Analyst Lawrence Grasso; Criminal Investigator John Marsh; Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling, and Maria Shumar and David Foster of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit.

Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glenn Kirschner and Laura Bach, who tried the case.

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