District Digest: Of murderers and mayoral candidates

Alleged Georgetown murderer starves himself

Albrecht Muth, who allegedly murdered his wife Viola Drath, will not stand trial until this December. Muth has subjected himself to starvation and is in dire medical condition. Muth, who now weighs only 104 lbs., is being held at United Medical Center and is at risk of heart failure.

Muth was originally arrested in early August, 2011, shortly after Drath’s strangled and beaten body was discovered in the bathroom of the couple’s home. He first stated that his wife died after accidentally falling down the stairs, but, when it became obvious that Drath’s death was the result of a homicide, Muth changed his story. Muth blamed the real cause of his wife’s death on Iranian assassins.

Muth is an incredibly eccentric German national, known for regularly impersonating an Iraqi general, an international spy, and a European noble. During initial court proceedings, Muth chose to present himself in his Iraqi general uniform. Muth’s first psychiatric evaluation found him unable to stand trial, but, upon further examination, a judge ruled that Muth would go to court.

Since that day, Muth has eaten as little as possible, leaving prosecutors extremely frustrated with his attempt to control the course of court proceedings. “He’s trying to manipulate the court system,”Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn L. Kirschner told the Post.

Muth and Drath were married for 22 years and lived in Georgetown. Some members of the Georgetown community even took notice of the strange man walking the streets, who apparently thought he was an Iraqi general.

The two were an odd couple, and close friends attested to the strangeness that Muth’s and Drath’s marriage took on in recent years.

Muriel Bowser will run in the 2014 mayoral election

On Saturday morning, Muriel Bowser, a Democrat and Ward 4 Councilmember, announced her intention to run in the next D.C. mayoral election. Should Bowser win the Democratic primary, which will be held on Apr. 1, 2014, she would virtually be guaranteed a victory in the election, as no Republican candidate has ever won a popular election for mayor in the District’s history.

Bowser spent much of her announcement speech criticizing current mayor Vincent Gray, against whom Bowser presumably will run. In particular, Bowser highlighted the alleged corruption and scandals of Gray’s administration.

“As I’ve gotten around the city you’ve told me that you’re disappointed, that the work of the District of Columbia has been sidetracked,” Bowser said, according to City Paper. “Corruption has robbed us of our focus, our momentum, our need to think big and act swiftly.”

In an interview with the Post, Bowser stated that, despite the numerous plans he has for improvements, Gray lacks a sense of “urgency” about them. Bowser listed schools, streetcars, and bridges as examples of smaller projects that demonstrate Gray’s incompetency. “The response from these people is well, it’s just taking a little bit longer than we thought … They’re not being held accountable for delivering,” she told the Post.

When asked how she would “move past the rhetoric” herself with specific proposals, however, Bowser was unable to provide anything but rhetoric of her own. She has quite a bit of time, over a year, to come up with a more specific platform. Right now, her plan is to attack Gray.

Firefighters lose hope in their chief

It turns out that the District police aren’t the only ones struggling with their leadership. The D.C. firefighters union overwhelmingly took a vote of no confidence against their chief. Out of 337 firefighters, only 37 supported Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe in a vote of confidence.

The vote has been a long time in the making, but follows an incident from earlier in March, when four of the city’s 39 ambulances were broken, and a wounded police officer could not be transported in a timely fashion.

Additionally, Ellerbe has attempted to change the firefighters’ current shift schedule. Right now, firefighters work a 24 hour shift before 72 hours off. Ellerbe’s plan would put the firefighters on 12 hour shifts. “Chief Ellerbe sees for the future we need to be working shorter shifts, more intervals and that doesn’t comply with a lot of people who live far away from here,” firefighter Garry Wiggins told Fox.

The vote of no confidence does not have any actual effect on the chief’s position. Rather, it is a symbolic gesture on the part of the firefighter force. A meeting tomorrow will focus on working out the issues currently plaguing the fire department.

Photo: Eric Purcell via Flickr

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