Prosecution fights motion to drop murder charges against Catherine Hoggle

Flyers with the photos of the two missing Hoggle children lie on a car windshield in a Germantown, Maryland, parking lot in this file photo. Jacob Hoggle, on left, was 2 years old at the time; his sister, Sarah Hoggle, was 3. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Maryland, are opposing the defense argument that murder charges should be dropped against Catherine Hoggle in the 2014 disappearance of her two young children, Sarah and Jacob Hoggle, WTOP has learned.

In a motion filed in Circuit Court, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and co-counsel Ryan Wechsler said the Jan. 10 motion to dismiss by defense lawyer David Felsen was flawed because it incorrectly calculated the starting date of a five-year deadline to put Hoggle on trial.

As WTOP first reported, Felsen maintained Maryland law dictates felony charges must be dropped against a defendant who has been determined to be incompetent to stand trial for five years.

Hoggle was arrested in September 2014 and charged with misdemeanors in connection with the disappearance of her children.

After being found incompetent to stand trial consistently over the years, and with a three-year deadline to prosecute for misdemeanors nearing, prosecutors dropped those counts and indicted Hoggle on murder charges in September 2017.

In his Jan. 10 motion, Felsen said the five-year deadline to prosecute the felonies Hoggle is currently charged with had expired Jan. 10, the fifth anniversary of the first time she was first found incompetent to stand trial in District Court.

McCarthy and Wechsler insist the five-year clock didn’t begin until she was indicted on the murder counts.

”The defense argues that the court should begin the tolling of time from when the defendant was found not competent on misdemeanor charges because the felony indictment was based on the same factual circumstances,” prosecutors wrote. “The Defense Motion to Dismiss … will not be ripe until December 1, 2022.”

However, prosecutors said, shortly after Hoggle was indicted in the deaths, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Dugan ordered Hoggle be re-evaluated by doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, where she has been treated and tested.

Prosecutors said the judge and Dr. Danielle Robinson, who evaluated Hoggle, recognized “that the specific enumerated charges against the defendant were an integral factor in determining whether the defendant was competent to stand trial on those charges.”

The argument over whether Hoggle’s charges should be dropped will likely be addressed in her next scheduled status hearing, on Feb. 18, before Judge Robert Greenberg.

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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