Albrecht Muth was convicted in January of killing his wife, Viola Drath. The German writer and socialite was found dead in the couple's row home in Washington's posh Georgetown neighborhood in August 2011.
Muth told police that his wife of more than 20 years had fallen in the bathroom, but an investigator concluded Drath's death was staged and authorities ruled it was a homicide. Prosecutors said Muth beat and strangled his wife and then moved her body. A jury concluded that Drath's murder was especially heinous and cruel.
In a court document filed before Muth's sentencing prosecutors called him "a career con-man" and "serial wife-abuser" and asked for a life sentence. Prosecutors said at various times Muth has pretended to be a count, an army officer and an Iraqi general. They said he had previously punched his wife, choked her, threatened to kill her and hit her with a chair, but she declined to press charges.
"The facts of this unusual case, particularly when viewed in light of the history of the defendant's violence and other abuse toward Ms. Drath, coupled with his life of lies, fabrications, fraud and deception, uniquely qualify him to spend the rest of his life in prison," prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Muth had a long history of verbally and physically abusing his wife. They said Muth, who had no steady employment of his own, lived on a $2,000 monthly allowance from Drath that had recently been reduced. After her death, prosecutors said, Muth produced a phony amendment to Drath's will which purported to leave Muth with up to $200,000 of his wife's estate.