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Catherine Hoggle found incompetent to stand trial for the murder of her two children; charges dropped

"Everyone involved in enabling her has blood on their hands," the father of Hoggle's children said after a judge dismissed murder charges against her.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Murder charges against a Montgomery County mother have been dismissed after a judge ruled she was not competent to stand trial Wednesday.

Catherine Hoggle is accused of killing her own two kids, 2-year-old Jacob and 3-year-old Sarah, more than eight years ago after they disappeared from their Montgomery County home in 2014.

After dismissing the charges and finding Hoggle incompetent to stand trial, Judge James A. Bonifant committed Hoggle to a secure Maryland state hospital saying she remains a danger to herself and others.

"Everyone involved in enabling her has blood on their hands," Troy Turner, Hoggle's ex-husband and the father of the two missing children, said to Bonifant after his rulings. 

Turner called the justice system's methods for dealing with competency a "travesty." He said he believes a finding of competency and a murder trial might have forced Hoggle to finally tell what happened. The bodies of their missing children have never been found, but prosecutors said they had enough circumstantial evidence to bring murder charges.

During the hearing, Turner said he believed Hoggle has been faking incompetency, given that she participated in a custody hearing for the couple’s surviving older child in Virginia. He predicted she’ll get better in the hospital and be released.

"I give it within a year, probably, because it's now the charges are dropped," Turner said. "She's going to have the willingness to get better. And she's had the ability the entire time. I've watched with my own eyes, her sitting there communicating with her attorney. Just yesterday, she brought in a piece of paper that she had highlighted herself and handed to him. But yet this woman is allowed to kill two children and then be put in the hospital. She belongs in jail. She belongs in prison. Everything with this is wrong."

Over the past eight years, the Montgomery County court system has repeatedly decided Hoggle was not mentally competent to stand trial. She was first found incompetent in 2015, after she was charged with child abduction. Those misdemeanor charges were later dismissed. 

According to Maryland law, a person found incompetent can only be held for three years on a misdemeanor. 

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Wednesday that he would recharge Catherine Hoggle with murder if she is ever released from the hospital. 

"As long as I'm State's Attorney, it would be my intent, that if she is judged to be safe to be returned to the community, the circumstances would be such that we would recharge her even if we have to revisit the issue of competency again," McCarthy said.

Hoggle suffers from schizophrenia and several other mental disorders, according to medical reports submitted in the case. Bonifant questioned Hoggle himself during the hearing and said her answers were calm and accurate, but said prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she can help in her own defense. The state's own expert doctor testified that he believes she remains incompetent to stand trial because she suffers from psychosis and disordered thinking that makes it impossible to effectively assist in her own defense.

Hoggle's attorney, David Felsen, said the medical evidence showed Hoggle has been "profoundly" mentally ill for more than a decade.

"She has taken medications of last resort for years, and she remains ill," Felsen said. "In the United States and in the state of Maryland we don't try people for any crime if they can't defend themselves."

Hoggle's condition will be monitored by the court system every six months indefinitely.

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