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Dog Owners Guilty on All Counts



March 21, 2002

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Dog Owners Guilty on All Counts

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LOS ANGELES -- A woman whose two huge dogs mauled a neighbor to death in a San Francisco apartment building was convicted of murder and manslaughter Thursday. Her husband was found guilty of manslaughter.

Marjorie Knoller, 46, could get 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder conviction in the death of 33-year-old Diane Whipple. She looked stricken upon hearing the verdict, taking several deep breaths.

Her 60-year-old husband, Robert Noel, showed no reaction. Both were also convicted of involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous dog that killed someone.

The sentencing date was not immediately announced.

Murder charges are rare in dog mauling cases, but prosecutors said the husband-and-wife lawyers knew their two powerful Presa Canarios were "time bombs." The prosecution brought in more than 30 witnesses who said they had been terrorized by the dogs, Bane and Hera.

The defense contended that Knoller and Noel could not have known their animals would kill, and that Knoller tried to save Whipple by throwing herself between her neighbor and the enraged Bane. They also disputed the witnesses' accounts of being menaced by the dogs.

The jury reached decisions on four of the counts Wednesday afternoon, but the verdicts were sealed until the final charge was settled Thursday. In all, the jury deliberated for about 11 hours.






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