Monday, September 22, 2008
UPDATE 09/22/08: Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard denounced Marjorie Knoller today and sentenced her to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder. The judge said Knoller "left Ms. Whipple in the hallway to die alone." She said Knoller lied repeatedly in grand jury and trial testimony, has never expressed remorse, and "blamed the victim" in an interview after the deadly attack. Woolard also fined her $10,000 and ordered her to pay $6,800 in restitution.
Knoller's lawyer will appeal the murder conviction.
08/23/08: Murder Conviction Reinstated
San Francisco, CA - The landmark case of Diane Whipple is back in the news. On January 26, 2001, two Presa Canario dogs attacked and killed Diane Whipple in the doorway of her upscale San Francisco apartment. The owner of the dogs, Marjorie Knoller, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. She was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and was ordered to pay $6,800 in restitution.
The complex legal case took many twists and turns.Originally, the jury convicted Knoller on second-degree murder. But the presiding judge tossed it out and convicted Knoller of involuntary manslaughter, thus reducing her sentence. Knoller served about two years in prison before being paroled. An appeals court later reinstated the second-degree murder conviction. Last year the Supreme Court of California said the trial judge and appeals court were both wrong and sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard reinstated the jury's original second-degree murder conviction. Knoller now faces up to 15-years to life in prison. Woolard also denied the defendant's request for a new trial. The ruling brought relief and tears from a group of Whipple's friends in the courtroom. Her former partner, Sharon Smith, said she was grateful for the decision, frustrated by its slow pace, and wanted Knoller "to be treated like any other criminal who's committed murder."
The legal writings about this case could fill a few warehouses. Kenneth Phillips of DogBiteLaw has placed together a profile of the case that can be easily read and understood.
04/13/08: San Francisco Dog Mauling Case Back in Court
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| 8/23/2008 9:21 PM |
I happened to be on Court Television at the time of this trial. My own story deals with an attack by two fighting dogs that were pit bulls. Presa Canario is also a dog that may be fought. This woman deserved to die. The original jury was correct. Before we have Presa Canario support groups this dog should go. Their breeders say this dog is a great family dog, intelligent, protective. Where have you heard this before---the pit bull owners.
The pit maulings continue after twenty two years.
| 8/24/2008 9:32 AM |
Presa Canario dogs were NEVER created to be pets. They are dangerous animals, almost exclusively used by criminals to guard drug ops. These are NOT family dogs....this madness has to end. We need to redefine what exactly a "pet" is...its not an instrument of protection, its not a weapon.
No one needs a pit bull or Presa for a companion animal...these dogs should be exceedingly rare, owned only by those posessing a license to own them, under strict regulations.
| 8/24/2008 10:34 AM |
I do not beleive a case like this will deterr pit owners. These people are not concerned with the law. Most are already law breakers and are not concerned in the least with breaking one more. The only real answer is to ban them completly from private ownership.
| 8/24/2008 2:54 PM |
The Superior Court's judgment in this case was excellent, and the ruling has garnered unprecedented public support. Of considerable importance is the court’s application of murder rather than manslaughter.
Homicide is prosecuted along a scale of statutes, but things like malice/malice of forethought and intent, vs. ignorance and negligence are critical points. In this case, the higher court made a determination that the defendant understood the violent propensity as well as the dogs’ physical ability to attack and kill.
In terms of precedent, the ruling is landmark. This is a slam-dunk on tangential arguments that, “all dogs bite.” The court wasn’t fooled and made the defendant accountable for the envelope of breed attributes, particularly as exhibited by these individuals. There was no sustainable defense that anyone was ignorant about the form and purpose of the breed. The defendant’s continuous harboring of the animals made her culpable to the degree of murder.
| 8/25/2008 3:18 AM |
Excellent post anonymous...I like the term "Malice of forethought", particularly when a certain breed of dog has killed 45 Americans in the past 30 months. How can one not know the risk?