15 Years to Life for Knoller
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