ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Montgomery County’s State’s Attorney told a judge Thursday he wants to put a mom accused of killing her own kids more than seven years ago on the witness stand so the judge can determine for himself if she is competent to stand trial.
In the seven years since Sarah and Jacob Hoggle went missing at the age of two and three, their mother, Catherine Hoggle, has been declared incompetent to stand trial 20 times. Catherine Hoggle currently remains in a state mental hospital, and her lawyer alleges she is "profoundly mentally ill."
Maryland law says Catherine Hoggle either has to go on trial by December 2022, or the murder charges have to be dropped. Prosecutors fear that without criminal charges to hold her, she could eventually be released from the hospital without facing accountability for the alleged murders.
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Montgomery County State’s attorney John McCarthy asked Judge Richard Jordan to question Hoggle himself.
"It's not the medical decision, it's a legal determination," McCarthy said. "The person who has the legal authority to make this decision is the judge, not the doctors."
Judge Jordan, who’s been brought out of retirement to hear the case, said in court that he was not prepared to put Hoggle on the stand during the Thursday hearing. Her lawyer warned that he would advise Hoggle to assert her fifth Amendment rights and refuse to be questioned. But McCarthy said in a matter of mental competency the judge could compel Hoggle to answer questions.
Jordan scheduled another hearing for October and asked for both sides to bring witnesses including doctors.
Meanwhile, supporters of the children's father, Troy Turner, staged a demonstration outside the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville saying justice delayed is justice denied.
"As far as her talking, as long as she's comfortable, there's no reason for her to," Turner said. "She is someone who has killed two children and she's sticking to her story. That doesn't show that she's delusional, it shows that she is a murderer sticking to her story."
Turner and his supporters said a murder trial would not only mean accountability for Catherine Hoggle, but it might force her to give up her secrets. Despite years of searching, the two children have never been found.
Prosecutors, however, maintain there’s ample circumstantial evidence to convict Hoggle of murder.
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