Hoggle still unfit to stand trial; judge won’t delay competency hearing

A Montgomery County Circuit judge ruled prosecutors will not be granted more time to allow a powerful anti-psychotic medication to take full effect, and determined Tuesday that Catherine Hoggle remains mentally unfit to stand trial for murdering her children.

After a psychiatrist selected by prosecutors — Dr. Christiane Tellefsen — reached a similar conclusion to one rendered repeatedly over four years by doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, State’s Attorney John McCarthy had requested delaying Hoggle’s competency hearing until December, to provide enough time for a “last resort” drug to to take full effect.

Prosecutors had argued that Hoggle was showing signs of improvement in the early stages of treatment with clozapine, and said “the defendant is closer to competency than she has been in prior years.”

Circuit Judge Robert Greenberg ruled against prosecutors, and declared that Hoggle remains incompetent and dangerous, unable to assist in her own defense.

Hoggle is charged with the murder of her 3-year-old Sarah and 2-year-old Jacob, who were last seen with their mother in September 2014.

When granting prosecutors the opportunity to get a second opinion about Hoggle’s competency, Greenberg ordered Tellefsen to test whether Hoggle is malingering.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Greenberg suggested he saw no indication Hoggle was faking mental illness.

Hoggle attorney David Felsen said that Tellefsen’s report was “a vindication” of the report done by doctors at Perkins, and that Greenberg noted how similar Tellefsen’s report was to the one generated by Dr. Danielle Robinson at Perkins.

Prosecutors had asked for additional time for the medical trial, and a second evaluation by Tellefsen.

The judge said no, and that for the time being, Tellefsen’s involvement in determining Hoggle’s competency is no longer needed.

Approaching the fifth anniversary of the children’s disappearance, McCarthy cited Maryland law, in which charges must be dropped against a person charged with a felony who is ruled incompetent for five years.

Hoggle was first found incompetent to stand trial soon after being initially charged with misdemeanors connected with her children’s disappearance.

She was indicted for murder in 2017. According to McCarthy, the five-year deadline should be in 2022.

However, it’s not clear whether the five-year clock began running when Hoggle was first found incompetent after being charged solely with misdemeanors. Felsen said he was not prepared to argue over when the five-year deadline would expire.

Greenberg set Hoggle’s next hearing for February.

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