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March 21, 2002 - California couple guilty in dog mauling case

The owners of two dogs that attacked and killed a neighbor in their San Francisco apartment building were found guilty Thursday of all charges against them, including involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous animal that kills. One of the owners, Marjorie Knoller -- who was present during the January 2001 mauling -- was also found guilty of second-degree murder. Courtroom spectators .phped, and Knoller, 46, grimaced, trembled and breathed heavily as the unprecedented verdict was read. "Oh my God," she mouthed.

Her husband, Robert Noel, 60, sat silently as the verdict was read. He was not at home at the time of the attacks, but jurors apparently agreed with the prosecution's argument that he and his wife had ignored repeated warnings about their two large Presa Canarios -- Bane and Hera -- and knew they were a danger. The couple was charged in the January 26, 2001, mauling death of Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old San Francisco lacrosse coach. Whipple was killed in the hallway of the apartment building she shared with Knoller and Noel as she returned home from a trip to the grocery store.

Superior Court Judge James Warren set a May 10 sentencing date for the couple. Knoller faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder. Noel and Knoller both face sentences of two to four years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter charges, while owning a mischievous animal that kills carries a sentence of 16 months to three years.

In all dog bite cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the incident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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