WASHINGTON (AP/WJLA) - Jury selection began Monday in D.C. Superior Court, and opening statements are expected Tuesday morning in the trial of a German man charged with murdering his 91-year-old wife, a journalist and socialite.
Albrecht Muth is charged with first-degree murder in the August 2011 beating and strangulation death of Viola Drath. Police say the killing took place inside the couple's home in Washington's posh Georgetown neighborhood.
Family and friends of the victim came for this opening day as prosecutors said a drunken Albrecht Muth came home after leaving a night on the town with his Craigslist boyfriend and choked his 91-year-old wife, Viola Drath, to death. She was 44 years older than he was.
"She provided the stage I provided the play," said Muth.
The German-born Muth's self-imposed starvation has brought him down to about 90 lbs. He was not in court, but followed the proceeds via laptop from his hospital bed at St. Elizabeth’s. A judge has ruled that his absences are willful and voluntary and that the trial can proceed without him.
"I'm the convenienct suspect from the beginning -- the police zeroed in on me," he said in defense.
Muth used to walk around in an Iraqi General’s uniform, claiming that Iranians angry with him killed his wife. But the victim’s daughter, Fran Drath, testified that her mother had a prenuptial agreement, turned the Georgetown home over to her children, and Muth was after the money – even presenting a phony will after her death to grant him $200,000.
Prosecutors said the victim’s grandson Ethan Drath will testify that in 1991, his grandmother called for help after Muth had beaten her -- a pattern that continued for 20 years until her death. This abuse was reportedly prompted after she cut Muth’s allowance from $2,000 to $1,800.