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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Gets 50 Years for Murdering Elderly Wife

(CN) - A 49-year-old man with a history of abusing his elderly wife was sentenced to 50 years in prison for strangling her in 2011.

In January, a jury convicted Albrecht Muth of first-degree murder for strangling and bludgeoning his 91-year-old wife, Viola Drath, in their home in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12, 2011.

Witnesses said Muth had been drinking the night before, growing progressively louder and more belligerent. One witness heard a woman's faint cry and a man's laugh emanating from Muth and Drath's Georgetown home.

That morning, Muth called 911 to report that his wife was dead on the bathroom floor.

The medical examiner said her death had been caused by strangulation and blunt-force injuries.

Prosecutors say Muth has a 20-year history of domestic violence and made several statements indicating he wanted to kill his wife.

By the summer of 2011, Drath had had enough and was trying to end the marriage, prosecutors claimed at trial. Though she removed Muth from her will, he continued to pressure her for money.

After killing Drath - and while her body was still in the house - Muth used a fraudulent document to try to extort $200,000 from Drath's daughter, prosecutors say.

"This was a tragic ending to an abusive relationship," said Police Chief Cathy Lanier. "In addition to killing the victim, the defendant also further victimized her family by attempting to defraud the family out of a large sum of money."

Muth also took on various personae over the years, once masquerading as an Iraqi Army general, prosecutors say.

He wasn't in the courtroom to hear the trial verdict or his sentencing because he was too weak from a series of hunger strikes beginning in December 2012.

Sentencing Judge Russell Canan called Muth's refusal to eat a "transparent attempt to avoid prosecution," and said the evidence against him was "overwhelming."

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