As I was perusing the news this morning I came upon an update on this case which took place in 2001. This incident garnered national headlines due to the details of the case.
The case involved Marjorie Knoller, who was accused of doing practically nothing while her dogs fatally mauled a neighbor in their apartment hallway.
The Knoller’s had custody of two Presa Canario dogs, which were owned by inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison.
On the day of the attack, Knoller took the larger dog, Bane, for a walk on the roof of the apartment building and returned to the sixth-floor corridor when the dog bolted away from her and attacked Whipple as she was about to enter her apartment. Bane’s 100-pound mate, Hera, charged out of Knoller’s apartment and may have joined the attack.
The prosecution claimed Knoller had not bothered to put a muzzle on her aggressive 140-pound Presa Canario dog before taking it out of the apartment. She did not call for help, retrieve a weapon or dial 911 while the animal was mauling Diane Whipple for at least 10 minutes.
She later blamed the victim for her own death, denying any culpability.
A jury in Los Angeles, where the trial was moved because of extensive publicity in the Bay Area, convicted Knoller of second-degree murder in 2002 and found Noel guilty of involuntary manslaughter for leaving the dogs with his wife while knowing she couldn’t control them.
The premise of the prosecutor’s case was these dogs were lethal weapons and that Marjorie Knoller is therefore guilty of murder, not involuntary manslaughter.
Judge James Warren of San Francisco Superior Court, who presided over the trial, reduced Knoller’s original murder conviction to involuntary manslaughter, saying he believed her when she said she had no idea Bane might kill someone.
The state Supreme Court ruled last year that Warren had used the wrong legal standard in overturning the murder verdict. The court said prosecutors seeking a murder conviction for dog mauling don’t have to prove the owner knew the dog was likely to kill, only that the owner had been aware the animal was potentially lethal and had exposed others to the danger.
After poring through the trial transcript, Woolard reinstated the murder conviction Aug. 22, saying Knoller had ignored warnings that the dogs were dangerous and had seen them attack and threaten other dogs and people.
This is a very interesting, and sad case, because it was the first time in California there was a murder conviction for a dog mauling.
What do you think about this case? Do you think Knoller is guilty of muder or involuntary manslaugher? Should someone be held accountable for the actions of their dogs if they don’t know beforehand what is going to happen? Give me a bark and let me know what you think.
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