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Md. judge hears petition to drop murder charges against Catherine Hoggle in kids' disappearance

Catherine Hoggle is accused of murdering her two young children Jacob and Sarah, who have been missing since 2014.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Jacob and Sarah Hoggle disappeared five years ago, but their mother could walk free without ever standing trial for their murder.

A judge is set to decide Tuesday afternoon if Catherine Hoggle is competent to stand trial. Now, even the prosecution's own independent expert is saying she is so mentally ill that for the first time she is being described as “Not Restorable," according to court documents. 

The kids' father, Troy Turner, said he is worried that the charges could be dropped and she could be set free.

"The justice system is failing my children," said Turner to Judge Robert Greenburg during court. 

Judge Greenberg called the decision on whether to drop charges “momentous" and promised a written opinion which prosecutors expect will come within two weeks.

Catherine Hoggle was the last person to see the children and has been confined to a mental hospital since the children disappeared in 2014.

In July 2019, a Maryland judge granted the prosecution's motion for a new psychiatrist to assess whether or not Hoggle was competent to stand trial.

She was first found incompetent in 2015 after being charged and jailed for child abduction, according to court records. Her lawyer argued Tuesday that a five-year legal clock has "run out," and the murder charges against her must be dropped according to state law.

But state's attorney John McCarthy said there are still two years to go because charges weren't upgraded to more serious felony murder until all leads were exhausted 2017.

While Hoggle said nothing during court, Turner spoke after the hearing, saying it looked to him like she knew exactly what was going on.

Following their disappearance, she faced misdemeanor charges. But under state law a person can only be held for three years — it's longer for murder. 

In 2017, the Montgomery County State's Attorney indicted Hoggle through the grand jury for the murder of her two children. That changed the time held to five years.

Maryland law requires felony charges to be dropped if someone is incompetent five years after being charged with a felony. Since their disappearance, doctors have repeatedly found Hoggle incompetent to stand trial because of her mental illness.

RELATED: 5 years missing | The Hoggle children disappeared 5 years ago, now their accused killer may walk free

Credit: WUSA
Since their disappearance, doctors have repeatedly found Hoggle incompetent to stand trial because of her mental illness.

"I know she killed my kids," Turner, said. "So, (there is) hope to bring them home. Hope that they’re alive: No, she killed my children."

RELATED: A new psychiatrist will evaluate Catherine Hoggle to see if she can stand trial

That hope is still alive, with people coming from across Maryland to hear their names, see their faces and share the message that the Hoggle children need to come home.

"It’s really sad," Bonnie Frazzee said. "I think a lot of people have heard about and want to make sure they’re treated the way they should be."

Despite massive searches, police have never been able to find their bodies. But Turner said he won't give up on his children.

RELATED: Mother accused of murdering her two children could walk free

RELATED: Separate evaluation requested for Montgomery Co. mom indicted in 2014 disappearance, murder of her 2 kids

RELATED: Catherine Hoggle indicted on a charge of murder of her 2 children

RELATED: Report: Catherine Hoggle not competent to stand trial

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