Maryland judge will not dismiss murder charges against Catherine Hoggle

A judge will not dismiss the murder charges against Catherine Hoggle, who is facing the charges for the 2014 disappearance of her two young children, despite her defense’s argument that prosecutors have run out of time to put her on trial.

Defense attorney David Felsen filed a motion to dismiss the trial on the grounds that Maryland law states that felony charges must be dropped against anyone found to be incompetent to stand trial after five years.

Hoggle was initially found to be incompetent to stand trial on Jan. 10, 2015, after an evaluation at the Montgomery County Detention Center. At the time she was charged with misdemeanors of neglect, in connection with her missing children, Sarah and Jacob.

On Thursday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg issued an opinion and order of court denying the motion to dismiss the charges but maintained that Hoggle remained incompetent to stand trial.

Felsen had argued that prosecutors had delayed indicting Hoggle for murder until the three-year deadline for the misdemeanor charges were about to expire, so they could wait an additional five years on the felony charge of murder.

Greenberg denied this saying, “once the misdemeanor charges were dismissed, the clock began to run on the felony charges.”

In that instance, the case would not be up for dismissal until Dec. 1, 2022.

Felsen told WTOP he is still evaluating the opinion.

“I have great respect for Judge Greenberg,” Felsen said. “We’ll make appropriate decisions in the near future.”

Felsen said he was considering appealing Greenberg’s ruling. Greenberg noted within the ruling that regardless of his decision, one side or the other would likely appeal.

If Felsen were to appeal, it would likely be in Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals, which considers issues raised before a case goes to trial.

Last week, for the first time, Dr. Danielle Robinson, at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, where Hoggle has been treated and tested for years, determined Hoggle was unrestorable — previously, she believed Hoggle could eventually assist in her own defense.

Greenberg said he would delay ruling on restorability and would schedule a hearing in the near future to hear testimony from Robinson, and Dr. Christine Tellefsen, who had been hired by prosecutors, but came to similar conclusions as Robinson.

Quoting a report written shortly after Hoggle’s arrest in 2014, Greenberg said, “Hoggle has a well-established history of psychiatric symptoms, including auditory hallucinations, bizarre thinking and behavior, paranoia and a flattened affect.”

Even if the case were dismissed here, Greenberg argued there would be nothing to stop charges from being brought against her again.

“There appears to be no prohibition on the state’s successive re-indictment of a defendant after an [incompetency] dismissal,” Greenberg said.

Troy Turner, Sarah and Jacob’s father, told WTOP he was relieved and happy with the ruling.

“It’s just one step, and we’re going to keep going forward to try to get justice for my babies,” Turner said. “It gives us a chance to keep moving forward, and that’s what we needed.”

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.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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