WASHINGTON — Almost three years after Catherine Hoggle’s two young children disappeared, her lawyer has asked a Montgomery County judge to dismiss the three misdemeanor charges against her Thursday.
Hoggle is the last known person to see 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob Hoggle, Sept. 7, 2014. She told conflicting stories to the children’s father and detectives about where the children were.
Since January 2015, after being ruled incompetent to stand trial, Hoggle has been undergoing treatment at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital. According to her attorney and the children’s father, she has a history of mental health issues, including paranoia and schizophrenia.
During a competency hearing Thursday, Hoggle’s attorney, David Felsen told District Court Judge Sherri Koch he filed a motion to have the charges against his client dismissed.
WTOP was the first to report that Hoggle would seek to get the charges dismissed Thursday.
Hoggle is charged with parental abduction, neglect, and hindering or obstructing the investigation — all misdemeanors.
Felsen said under Maryland statutes, if a defendant is deemed incompetent, misdemeanors or non-violent crimes must be dismissed after three years.
The final of Hoggle’s three misdemeanors was filed Sept. 15, 2014.
Prosecutors with Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office believe Hoggle murdered her two children, and have argued she is feigning mental illness to avoid trial.
Aware of the deadline, prosecutors requested Thursday’s hearing to review the most recent evaluation from doctors at Perkins.
In court, the judge said Hoggle’s treatment team found she remains unable to assist in her own defense, even though they believe she can be restored to competency.
The judge set a Sept. 15 hearing to argue Felsen’s motion.
Outside the courthouse, the children’s father, Troy Turner, said prosecutors have told him they have enough evidence to indict Hoggle for murder, but she has not been charged with that crime.
“My understanding is we’re going to go forward with homicide charges, so it’s not like she’s gonna walk on the 15th,” Turner said.
Turner said prosecutors “feel like they have a strong case, even without bodies.”
Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, “could neither confirm nor deny” prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to indict Hoggle on murder charges.
Prosecutors and police have never disclosed whether they have gathered any evidence suggesting Hoggle killed her children. Hoggle has told psychiatrists her children are safe.
“There is no allegation that any harm has come to either child,” wrote Felsen in his motion. “The allegations center around the police inability to confirm the whereabouts of Jacob and Sarah.”
Hoggle has attempted to escape from Perkins several times during her confinement, according to prosecutors.
Although it would be theoretically possible for Hoggle to walk free if the District Court Judge dismissed the current misdemeanors against her, prosecutors would almost certainly file other misdemeanors or felony charges to keep her in custody, as they try to determine the fate of the children.
“It is unjust to continue these prosecutions,” wrote Felsen. “These three cases should be dismissed.”
Even if misdemeanor criminal charges are dropped, if a judge believes Hoggle is still a danger to herself or others, she could be kept at Perkins under a civil commitment.