WASHINGTON (AP) — A German man charged with killing his 91-year-old wife has told a judge in a handwritten note that he is "willing, able and ready" for the murder trial despite a fast that he acknowledges has physically weakened him.
Albrecht Muth, 49, also reiterated in his letter his plans to represent himself, in place of his court-appointed lawyers, at his December trial in D.C. Superior Court.
Though his intermittent starvation has in the past left him hospitalized, postponed court proceedings and "is somewhat weakening" him, Muth wrote that he plans to continue fasting for religious purposes and in keeping with the "Holy Orders of the Eternal Father."
"As I said on my last visit with you, you live in your secular world. I live in my religious world. Do let us have the two meet in December," Muth, in an apparent reference to his upcoming trial, said in the letter to Superior Court Judge Russell Canan. "You should not force me to give up my religious fast to acquiesce to secular demand, thus violating a key tenet of my religious life, which is at the core of my being. My active participation in my trial should not be predicated on violating my religious life."
Muth is awaiting trial in the August 2011 killing of journalist Viola Drath, a fellow expatriate who wrote often on German affairs and regularly hosted dignitaries for dinner in the row home the couple shared in Washington's posh Georgetown neighborhood.
Prosecutors say Muth strangled and beat Drath, who was found unresponsive in the bathroom, and presented her relatives with a forged letter stating that he was entitled to at least $150,000 from her estate upon her death. The couple had been married for more than 20 years.
Muth has denied guilt, though the substance of the allegations has been overshadowed by questions over his physical and mental well-being and extravagant self-aggrandizement that prosecutors call pure fiction.
In his letter, Muth also repeated his oft-made assertions that he is a brigadier general in the Iraqi army and that his wife was killed in an Iranian hit job targeting him. He said he wants to call as a witness Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director, to substantiate his claims. Authorities say those contentions are all false.
A status conference is scheduled for next week.