Maryland prosecutors seek new doctors to evaluate mother charged with Hoggle children’s murders

Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Maryland, have asked the judge to allow an independent doctor to evaluate Catherine Hoggle after almost five years of determinations by doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital have found her incompetent to stand trial for the murders of her two young children.

In a competency hearing in Circuit Court, Judge Robert Greenberg cited a report by Dr. Danielle Robinson at the state psychiatric hospital that her treatment team had again determined Hoggle is “not competent, dangerous, but restorable,” and scheduled another hearing for June 10.

Assistant state’s attorney Ryan Wechsler raised a motion asking for “an independent evaluation, outside of Perkins and Dr. Robinson,” and suggesting forensic psychiatrist Christiane Tellefsen,  from the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Wechsler said Perkins doctors were doing “a substandard job in evaluating Ms. Hoggle.” 

Wechsler said doctors charged with evaluating Hoggle are “overworked, understaffed and haven’t given sufficient time for this case.”

Defense attorney David Felsen said prosecutors don’t get to choose their own doctor if they don’t like the first doctor’s conclusion.

“Even though there’s no authority, we want to pick our own doctor,” Felsen said, sarcastically. “They don’t like the results — there’s no indication that (the Perkins finding) isn’t proper.”

In District Court in 2016, while Hoggle was facing misdemeanor charges related to her children’s disappearance, Judge Eugene Wolfe denied a prosecution request for an independent psychiatric evaluation.

Greenberg invited both parties to file a motion on whether he had the authority and should grant an independent evaluation. If he determined a second opinion is warranted, “I don’t know I would take a person the state was recommending,” Greenberg said.

Wechsler suggested in her arguments that Hoggle was malingering. “She’s very familiar with the system,” Wechsler said.

Felsen said doctors at Perkins have been trying to use a drug to restore competency that Hoggle had used in the past, unsuccessfully.

Outside court, Troy Turner, the father of the two missing Hoggle children, said he is hopeful the judge will allow another set of doctors to evaluate Catherine Hoggle. His daughter, Sarah Hoggle, was 3 years old when she disappeared and son Jacob Hoggle was 2 years old.

“Four-and-a-half years saying ‘restorable but incompetent,’ I think it speaks to Perkins’ incompetency more than hers,” Turner said. “I would think he would want every piece of information in a case like this, where two children have been killed.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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