Law Review: Dog mauling case goes to jury |

Law Review: Dog mauling case goes to jury

Here is your intrepid reporter’s prediction of the outcome of the San Francisco dog mauling case, which as of press deadline has just gone to the jury:

* Marjorie Knoller, charged with second-degree murder — NOT GUILTY; charged with manslaughter — GUILTY.

* Robert Noel, charged with manslaughter — GUILTY.

Lest you put too much credence on this prediction, the Law Review predicted O.J. Simpson would be convicted. And if that’s not enough, I haven’t tried a criminal case in 20 years.

This week the lawyers for both sides are making their final arguments and the judge is instructing jurors on the law of manslaughter and second-degree murder.

A jury need not find an “intent to kill” in order to vote for murder D only that Knoller did something “inherently dangerous” with a “conscious disregard for human life.”

While Knoller testified last week that “never in a million years did I think Bane could do anything like that,” the prosecutors will argue that keeping the two Presa Canarios in a San Francisco apartment was a “time bomb,” the equivalent of playing with hand grenades.

Last week Knoller labeled the testimony of a dozen prosecution witnesses, who had confrontations with the dogs, as “inaccurate” or “mistaken” or “false.” Here’s the best. Knoller, in attempting to establish an alibi at the time of one supposed dog run-in with a prosecution witness, testified that at the time she had been visiting her husband Noel in the hospital, where he was recovering from having been badly bitten by Bane while trying to stop a dog fight. Marjorie, I am afraid that’s not going to help your case.

Another bit of evidence that came out last week was a letter Noel wrote to his adopted son Paul “Cornfed” Schneider, state prisoner and member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, after the deadly attack: “there is no way to ease into this. Bane is dead, as is our neighbor,” wrote Noel, who then promised to fight to keep Cornfed’s other dog, Hera, alive. “Neighbors be damned. If they don’t like living in the building with her (Hera), they can move.” Now that’s compassion. Noel and Knoller have hung themselves over and over.

Knoller was on the witness stand for over 12 hours. She testified that the media, prosecutors, prison officials and her former neighbors, who she said vandalized her prized 1969 Mercury Cougar, were partially to blame.

Even Knoller’s attorney Nedra Ruiz managed to offend — by appearing on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta van Susteren. (I didn’t recognize Greta with her new face). Ruiz claimed Diane Whipple’s partner Sharon Smith was “lying” about Whipple being previously bitten and fearing the dogs. The judge will set a contempt hearing in May for Ruiz’s apparent violation of the court’s “gag order.” It would appear Ruiz is getting as much press as possible to further her career. You don’t see that allegation in the mainstream media.

By the time you read this, it will be over for Noel and Knoller, but not so for those affected by the tragic killing of Diane Whipple, including one former Truckee student who was mentored and coached by Whipple.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter/Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He may be reached at or at the firm’s web site

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