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Doctors say German man charged in DC slaying of journalist wife remains incompetent for trial
WASHINGTON (AP) ' A German man charged with killing his much-older wife in Washington's fashionable Georgetown neighborhood remains mentally incompetent to stand trial and should continue to be treated for psychiatric disorders, according to doctors who interviewed him last week.
Albrecht Muth, 47, is charged with first-degree murder in the August death of his wife, Viola Drath, a 91-year-old German journalist and socialite. Authorities say she was beaten and strangled to death.
The case has been delayed by Muth's bizarre behavior and questions about his mental health. He has claimed his wife was killed in an Iranian hit job, that he is a brigadier general in the Iraqi army and has likened himself to Moses and Jesus.
Muth is being treated at a psychiatric hospital in Washington, where a judge ordered him after he began starving himself and became ill. He had tried to fire his court-appointed lawyers, but a judge reinstated them over concerns about his mental and physical health. Last month, he was deemed temporarily incompetent to stand trial pending further evaluation.
A hearing on his mental competency is scheduled for Wednesday morning in D.C. Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Muth is simply a habitual con man who was motivated by money in killing Drath and who had a tempestuous and often violent relationship with her.
Doctors who interviewed him say there's no evidence that he's faking his mental illness, and said his responses to a personality test were similar to people who are described as "self-centered, arrogant and exploitative."
The doctors said they had strong doubts about Muth's ability to understand the court case against him or to help his lawyers. They said he likely will eventually become competent for trial or progress toward that goal.
"At present, Mr. Muth continues to possess a factual understanding of the court proceedings. What remains of concern is his ability to rationally understand the proceedings against him or consult with his attorneys to a reasonable degree of rational understanding," according to a doctor's letter submitted this week ahead of the court hearing.