Judge reviews courtroom surveillance video in competency hearing

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Supporters of father Troy Turner say the video is proof Hoggle is competent enough to consult with a lawyer in her own defense

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The high-stakes competency hearing for a mentally ill Montgomery County woman accused of killing her own children 8 years ago took an unusual turn Wednesday.

Judge James Bonifant confirmed to attorneys in the case that he reviewed courtroom security video of 36-year-old suspect Catherine Hoggle.

Supporters of Hoggle’s former husband say the video allegedly captures Hoggle occasionally whispering with her attorney, and is proof she’s capable of working with her lawyer on her own defense.

Judge James Bonifant did not say what the video shows.

It’s the latest turn in a battle by Montgomery County Prosecutor John McCarthy to get Hoggle declared competent to stand trial despite doctors’ opinions that she’s not.

Psychiatrists say Hoggle remains too sick to help in her own defense and cannot be put on trial.

The review of the video occurred after a hearing on Thursday when Bonifant decided to question Hoggle in open court to see for himself if she’s competent. 

Hoggle answered basic questions about the legal system accurately, including giving a brief explanation of the concept of attorney-client privilege.

Psychiatrist Dr. Adam Brown, who assessed Hoggle this year, said her answers did not change his opinion that she suffers from psychosis, hallucinations and disordered thought and remains incompetent to stand trial.

Brown was called to answer additional questions Wednesday.

Hoggle has been in a secure state psychiatric hospital since the children’s disappearance in 2014. Their bodies have never been found.

State’s Attorney John McCarthy says it is up to a judge, not doctors, to determine if Hoggle is competent to stand trial.

Murder charges against Hoggle will be dropped on Dec. 1 if she is not found competent by then, according to state law.

The children’s father says a trial with the prospect of going to prison is the only way Hoggle might finally be forced to tell what happened to his kids.

On Wednesday, the cross-examination of a medical expert lasted all day in court. The hearing will continue Monday at 9:30 a.m.

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Judge reviews courtroom surveillance video in competency hearing

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