The California Supreme Court recently upheld a second-degree murder conviction for Marjorie Knoller, whose dogs fatally mauled her apartment neighbor, Diane Whipple (pictured here), in 2001 in San Francisco, California.
According to trial evidence, Whipple was carrying groceries to her apartment when Knoller’s dog Bane began the attack. Moments later, a second dog, 100-pound Hera, came out of Knoller’s apartment and joined in.
Whipple, a lacrosse coach at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, suffered 77 wounds on her body, had all her clothes ripped off, and lost one-third of her blood.
A neighbor who heard Whipple’s shouts and the dogs’ barks and growls called 911 to summon police, who found Whipple in the blood-stained hallway, covered with wounds and trying to crawl to her apartment. Whipple died after being taken to a hospital.
Dog Bite Owner Held Responsible
The case has gone through various appeals. The state high court said in 2007 that Knoller could be convicted of second-degree murder if she acted in conscious disregard for human life. Additionally, San Francisco Superior Court judge Charlotte Woolard concluded in 2008 that the original second-degree murder conviction was justified.
In August of 2010, the state Court of Appeal upheld Woolard’s decision, saying that Knoller “knew that her conduct was dangerous to human life” when she took the untrained, aggressive and uncontrollable canines out in public without a muzzle.
More Violations of Dog Bite Laws Los Angeles
A three-judge panel said Knoller knew of the dogs’ dangerousness from a veterinarian’s warning, literature found in her apartment about the breed’s aggressiveness, and 30 incidents in previous months in which the canines had threatened or attacked people or other dogs.
Justice James Lambden wrote in that ruling that Knoller “had clear notice that she could not and often did not control the Presas. Her disregard for Whipple’s life was inferable from the fact that she never called 911 for help, never asked after the attack about Whipple’s condition, and returned to the scene of the attack not to assist the dying Whipple, but to find her keys.’
Dog Bite Tragedy and Irony
In a bit of sad irony, Knoller and Noel were caring for the dogs for a prison inmate, Paul “Cornfed” Schneider, and registered themselves as owners in early 2001. Schneider, a convicted attempted murderer whom the couple adopted as their son three days after the attack, was a member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and was planning a guard dog business to be called “Dog-O-War.”
Contact a Los Angeles, California Dog Bite Lawyer
This is an unusual dog bite attack case in that the courts have concluded that owner allowed her dogs to attack her neighbor, did not muzzle the dogs in public and didn’t even call 911 as the victim lay dying with 77 dog bites. While it appears justice has been served in the criminal case, let’s hope the victim’s family consulted with an attorney about a civil case.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or a vicious dog attack as described here, you need to speak to an experienced lawyer about your rights. Please call 877-702-7274 and speak to a California dog bite attorney today.
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