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Prosecutors: DC trial can start without defendant

Monday - 7/22/2013, 4:00pm  ET

ERIC TUCKER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- District of Columbia prosecutors say a German man charged with killing his elderly wife is forfeiting his right to be present for his own trial by engaging in lengthy hunger strikes.

Prosecutors say in a new court filing that the judge is authorized to start Albrecht Muth's murder trial even if the defendant is not present.

Muth is charged in the August 2011 strangulation and beating death of his 91-year-old wife, Viola Drath, inside the couple's row home in the Georgetown neighborhood. A fellow German expatriate and journalist, Drath was married to Muth for more than 20 years.

Muth has delayed court proceedings through periodic refusals to eat. A doctor last spring said Muth was at imminent risk of death.

Prosecutors say Muth is intentionally making himself unavailable for trial.


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