WASHINGTON — A lawyer for a German man charged with killing his 91-year-old wife has asked a judge to dismiss the case, saying law enforcement authorities failed to preserve and turn over evidence that might help his defense.
Albrecht Muth, 49, is awaiting trial next month in the August 2011 strangulation and beating death of Viola Drath, a German journalist who was his wife of more than 20 years. He says he’s innocent.
In a new motion seeking to dismiss the indictment, Muth’s public defenders say District of Columbia prosecutors provided only part of a document that could be central to the case. Prosecutors have told Muth’s lawyers that there are no additional pages to be turned over, meaning that the defense has the complete document, according to the court filing.
The document is an amendment to Drath’s will that Muth presented to Drath’s relatives after her death, police and prosecutors have said. The letter contained a forged signature purported to be Drath’s and stated that Muth was entitled to a portion of her estate upon her death, according to authorities, who have suggested that Muth might have been motivated by money in killing his wife.
Muth’s lawyers say prosecutors have produced only one page of the letter, even though a detective referred in a sworn statement to the document containing “several” pages.
“The fact is, in this case the information contained in those documents could very likely have raised serious question about whether Mr. Muth committed the crime,” the lawyers wrote.
Short of dismissing the indictment, the defense lawyers say prosecutors should not be able to introduce the document as evidence, or if it is used at trial, that the judge tells jurors that there are missing pages.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the court filing.
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