MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — On Wednesday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant found Catherine Hoggle incompetent to stand trial for the disappearance of her two children, Sarah and Jacob.
According to investigators, 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob were last seen in 2014 with their mother Catherine Hoggle. Police began searching for the children after their father Troy Turner said he hadn’t seen them in days.
Hoggle was first charged with misdemeanor child neglect, abduction and hindering law enforcement. In 2017, she was charged with two counts of murder.
“I tried to hold on to hope that my kids were alive,” said Turner. “I held on as long as I could until it just didn’t make sense anymore, and it’s obvious that she killed my children.”
For Hoggle to stand trial, Judge James Bonifant had to be convinced by the evidence in the record, that Hoggle was able to assist in her own defense. Hoggle’s defense attorney, David Feldsen, argued that nearly 20 doctors have found her incompetent and diagnosed her with schizophrenia.
“In the state of Maryland, we don’t try people for anything for any court. If they can’t defend themselves,” said Feldsen.
The state argued Hoggle was faking it to not stand trial. States Attorney John McCarthy believes other evidence if allowed would have revealed that, but by Maryland law, if Hoggle’s competency was not restored by December 1, the charges must be dropped.
“She wanted to be incompetent, she did not want to return to jail,” said McCarthy. “During the course of the hearing, that she wanted, in some way to regain some access to a third child whose parental rights had now been stripped from her.
Turner says the justice system failed his children, but he will continue to seek justice for Sarah and Jacob.
“We’re going to be in front of the state legislative bodies in Maryland,” said Turner. “We’re going to try to make these changes. If we can’t save my kids we’re gonna save as many as we can.”
Hoggle will be involuntarily committed as long as she remains a danger to herself and others. Double Jeopardy was not attached to this case, so prosecutors are able to recharge Hoggle if her condition improves in the future.