Catherine Hoggle is incompetent to stand trial in the deaths of her two children, who disappeared in 2014, Judge James A. Bonifant ruled Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Charges will be dropped against the Clarksburg woman, 36. Under Maryland law, if Hoggle was not found mentally fit to stand for trial by Dec. 1., her murder charges must be dropped, and she would most likely be held in civil confinement.
Troy Turner, the children’s father, addressed the court after Bonifant’s ruling: “This is a travesty. … She’s going to have her life, and my kids don’t have one.”
Before announcing the ruling for civil confinement, Bonifant laid out the conditions required: The defendant has a mental disorder, presents a danger to the life or safety of herself or others, is unable or unwilling to be voluntarily committed to a medical facility and requires in-patient care – and there is no less restrictive form of intervention available to meet the need.
“The court finds the defendant meets their criteria for involuntary confinement,” Bonifant said.
Hoggle and her two children went missing in September 2014. She was discovered a week later, but her 2-year-old son, Jacob, and 3-year-old daughter, Sarah, were never found.
Hoggle was earlier charged with misdemeanor charges of child neglect and interference in a police investigation back in 2015, but these charges were dismissed in September 2017, and she was charged in the circuit court with two counts of first-degree murder. In December of that year, she was found incompetent to stand trial for a second time.
Hoggle was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and found incompetent to stand trial in the Montgomery County District Court in January 2015. She was then committed to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, a state psychiatric hospital with maximum security, where she remained to date.
While medical experts provided varying testimonies in multiple court sessions over the past few months on Hoggle’s current mental state, it was ultimately the judge’s decision as to whether a defendant is competent to stand trial, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
The State’s Attorney’s Office had five years to demonstrate to a judge that Hoggle has been restored to competency. Prosecutors had previously put forth the argument that the five-year mark began the second time Hoggle was ruled incompetent on Dec. 1. of 2017, meaning the deadline for restoring her to competency would have been Dec. 1 of this year.
At a news conference after the ruling Turner, the children’s father, agreed Hoggle was mentally ill but said the justice system was broken.
“She’s faking being incompetent,” he said. “she has said she’s been advised to be incompetent.”