The 'Scam of His Life'; Apparent Insanity the 'Scam of His Life'

By Somers, Meredith | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

The 'Scam of His Life'; Apparent Insanity the 'Scam of His Life'


Somers, Meredith, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Meredith Somers, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Prosecution experts say Albrecht Muth should stand trial in the killing of his 91-year-old wife, concluding in court filings that the accused murderer is not insane but is a con artist delighted with his own publicity, who since being confined to a mental hospital has written a five-volume memoir and selected an actor to play him.

Two reports fromthe prosecution's mental health experts filed in D.C. Superior Court last week describe the 48-year-old man as a spellbinding storyteller, "masterful manipulator" and, most important, competent to stand trial.

Mr. Muth built his entire life by constructing multiple and often simultaneous false narratives, tales within tales, like Russian nesting dolls, stated Mitchell H. Hugonnet, a Bethesda-based psychologist, in his analysis of Mr. Muth. His well-developed skills as a con artist have been honed over at least three decades, and in the wake of the murder charges, he appears to have been running the con and scam of his life.

Mr. Muth's unwavering argument that his late wife, Viola Drath, was the victim of a botched Iranian assassination attempt, coupled with various hunger strikes and claims of communication with heavenly bodies, have called his sanity into question. The reports from the prosecution's experts come after months of debate in court about his competency and whether to proceed with a trial, which is scheduled for October. Doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital in recent months have filed a handful of letters briefly describing the testing and progress for Mr. Muth.

Mr. Muth was diagnosed by hospital doctors with a persecutory type of delusional disorder and schizotypal personality disorder. The diagnoses suggest that Mr. Muth has difficulty accepting reality, feels targeted or persecuted, and displays odd behavior or beliefs.

Last week, after Mr. Muth started another hunger strike, the court gave doctors at St. Elizabeths more time to complete a mental health review.

In the prosecution's evaluation, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Robert T. Phillips called the fasts manipulative and recounted a conversation with a doctor who said Mr. Muth's recent announcement to begin fasting happened to occur just after he was informed that the TreatmentTeam was reconsidering his diagnosis and competency status.

The evaluation was based on hours of interviews with Mr. Muth as well as court documents, medical records, interviews with Drath family members and other materials.

Known by neighbors in his Georgetown community for wearing a camel-colored military costume, Mr. Muth told doctors he had served as a staff brigadier general with the Iraqi army. Despite emails to Drath in 2006 indicating he was in Baghdad, on a mission, the reports cited employment records that showed Mr. Muth was working at a hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.

Certificates referencing achievements in Iraq came from a printing shop in Beltsville, doctors noted.

Mr. Muth's lies serve to set the stage for the life drama he has written in which he stars, directs and casts others in supporting roles, Dr. …

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