BALTIMORE -- A Maryland Circuit Court judge on Wednesday found that Catherine Hoggle, a Germantown woman accused of killing her two children eight years ago, is not mentally fit to stand trial.
Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy also announced Hoggle's murder charges were dropped.
Three-year-old Sarah Hoggle and her two-year-old brother, Jacob, disappeared in September 2014., but they are presumed to be dead.
"For all the people in the community who loved those kids, it's a tough day," McCarthy said. "My personal hope is that we will not have justice ultimately denied, but just delayed."
Hoggle, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, was initially charged with abduction and neglect. She was charged with the murder of her children in 2017.
She has spent years at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Jessup, Maryland.
"Over the past eight years, Ms. Hoggle had been established by the doctors at the hospital, close to 30 times as being incompetent to stand trial," McCarthy said. "The doctors at Clifton T. Ferguson, not at any point in time, found her competent to stand trial for as long as she has been there."
Doctors have repeatedly found Hoggle mentally incompetent to stand trial,psychiatrists about her mental fitness.
"We attempted during the course of this hearing to challenge those findings by a careful and detailed examination of the hospital records that we think contradicted, in some instances, the conclusions reached by those doctors during those years of treatment," McCarthy said.
Judge James Bonifant involuntarily committed Hoggle to a psychiatric hospital.
This means, if Hoggle is approved by doctors to ever be mentally stable, she could be set free.
"This system is broken," said Troy Turner, Jacob and Sarah's father. "Whenever someone can murder two children, and then be treated as a regular patient, and be given more rights than the kids or the survivors around them who they have affected, there is something really wrong.
"When this is allowed to move forward this way, it is a completely broken system and it needs to change."
McCarthy said that if Hoggle is released from the hospital, prosecutors can revisit the charges and that he would not hesitate to move forward.
"As long as I am State's Attorney, it would be my intent that if she is safe to be returned to the community, the circumstances would be such that we would recharge her, even if we have to revisit the issue of competency again," McCarthy said.
Turner said his fight for justice will not end.
"This woman is allowed to kill two children and then be put in a hospital," Turner said. "She belongs in jail. Everything with this is wrong."
Turner stood outside the court Wednesday with hope lost against the justice system, and worried that Hoggle will once again be back on the streets.
"This fight is not over for me and my family. We are going to continue to pursue justice in whatever we can," Turner said. "I give it within a year. Now that the charges are dropped, she has the willingness to get better.
"I have spoken to her. I have heard what she has said. I heard what is in the records in the courtroom. I've watched with my own eyes, her sitting there, communicating with her attorney. There is information that her attorney could have only gotten from her. As far as meaningful communication goes, I would say it is definitely there."
WJZ spoke with Troy Turner, the children's father, who said,
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