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Harford woman charged in connection to deadly Edgewood fire to have competency evaluated to stand trial

An Edgewood woman will be evaluated for her competency to stand trial in connection to the deaths of three people in a 2019 house fire she allegedly set.

Bobbie Sue Hodge, 61, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of attempted first- and second-degree murder and one count of arson. Her trial was scheduled for Nov. 30 but has since been postponed to July 26. All told, her trial has been postponed three times, according to electronic court records.

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Bobbie Sue Hodge is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and arson for allegedly setting the fire May 9, 2019 that killed three people inside an Edgewood townhouse where she had lived. Competency hearings are scheduled for Dec. 7 and Jan. 7.
Bobbie Sue Hodge is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and arson for allegedly setting the fire May 9, 2019 that killed three people inside an Edgewood townhouse where she had lived. Competency hearings are scheduled for Dec. 7 and Jan. 7. (Courtesy Harford County Sheriff' / BSMG)

According to a motion filed in Harford County Circuit Court on Nov. 13, Hodge’s defense attorneys said their client had a substantial medical history and was showing “severe memory issues " and “lack of decision making capacity.” As such, they asked Judge Paul Ishak to approve an evaluation of her competency, a motion he granted last week.

Per the order, Hodge will remain in the Harford County Detention Center for the evaluation, for which no date is set on the document. Two competency hearings have been scheduled for Dec. 7 and Jan. 7.

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Legal competency is the measure of a defendant’s ability to understand the charges against them and assist in their own defense. While sometimes conflated, competency differs from criminal responsibility, which determines if, at the time of the offense, a defendant was unable to appreciate the criminality of their actions or comport their behavior to the requirements of the law.

If a defendant is not found to be competent to stand trial, the case is set aside and he or she is treated until they meet the standard.

Hodge is accused of setting a fire in an Edgewood home that killed three people. The three-story home in the 1800 block of Simons Court was set up for nine people to live in. Ernest Milton Lee, 57, Kimberly Ann Shupe, 47, and Dionne Dominique Hill, 32, all lived on the third floor and died in the fire. Others were injured in the blaze.

Hodge is accused of setting the fire in the home’s second-floor living room, and an investigation by local and federal authorities suggests Hodge made “multiple threats” to burn the townhouse, according to charging documents.

Witnesses also said they saw Hodge leave the room where the fire started at the time, and a recorded call from one of the deceased occupants named Hodge as the person who started the fire, the documents state.

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