Albrecht Gero Muth, accused of killing his 91-year-old wife Viola Herms Drath in August 2011 in their Georgetown home, was found guilty of first-degree murder Jan. 16 in D.C. Superior Court.
The jury deliberated less than a full day before reaching its verdict. Muth will be sentenced in March and could receive life in prison.
Drath was found dead in the third-floor bathroom of her home on Q Street on Aug. 12, 2011, after being strangled and beaten.
Medical examiners determined Drath’s death to be a homicide – and not a result of falling, as Muth first contended. There had been not forced entry into the house. He was arrested a few days later on P Street, after being locked out of the house and wandering around the neighborhood and sleeping in nearby Montrose Park.
A veteran journalist and married previously to an Army colonel, Drath and Muth were married in 1990 and known around town for their dinner parties with a mix of political, diplomatic, military and media VIPs. Drath was 44 years older than Muth.
Prosecutors argued that Muth showed a pattern of abuse against his wife and was motivated by money, saying he had no steady job and was not included in Drath’s will. “He was a good little con man,” prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told the jury.
During trial testimony, Drath’s daughters, Connie and Francesca (from her first marriage), talked about Muth’s money arrangements with his wife and of his emails to them about items he wanted upon her death.
Seen around Georgetown in faux military garb, the cigar-smoking Muth was perceived by neighbors and shopkeepers as an oddball. He said that he was a member of the Iraqi Army — which the Iraqi government denied. Muth went so far as to have arranged a 2010 ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for Iraqi Liberation Day. He was also known around government and foundation lobbying circles as Count Albi of the EPG (Eminent Persons Group).
Delays to the trial start date were due in part to Muth’s failing heath because of his decision to restrict his eating. Judge Russell Canan ruled that the trial start Jan. 6 and have the defendant participate from his hospital bed via video conferencing — and not be at the courthouse, a first for the D.C. court. The jury did not see Muth in his deteriorated condition nor did he testify.
Muth’s hunger strikes began in December 2012, after he was ruled competent to stand trial and had spoken of visions of the Archangel Gabriel. In March 2013, a doctor deemed Muth too weak to stand trial. His fast continued, and a judge postponed the beginning of the trial until Jan. 6.