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Mauling Verdict Criticized

The State

April 01, 2002|From Associated Press

SAN JOSE — The man recently convicted along with his wife in the dog-mauling death of their neighbor last year said that he was not surprised by his conviction, but accused the prosecutors and judge of political maneuvering

Robert Noel also told the San Jose Mercury News in an interview from San Francisco Jail on Friday that expressing remorse would not have made a difference in his or his wife's convictions. Noel and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, have been criticized for appearing insensitive to the death of Diane Whipple, 33.

"I saw where the jurors said, 'They didn't show any remorse,' but by definition remorse is an admission of guilt," Noel said. "Besides, what could I possibly say to this woman's family? That their daughter had just died in a horrible fashion? What relevance would there be to any words I could say?"

Noel also said he and his wife fear prison officials may try to have them killed. The couple, who are lawyers, have filed many lawsuits on behalf of inmates and have criticized California prison officials.

The couple's two large Presa Canarios fatally mauled Whipple in her apartment building on Jan. 26, 2001. Knoller and Noel, who kept the dogs for two California prison inmates, contended that they had no idea the dogs would turn into killers.

Knoller, who was present when the dogs attacked, was convicted of second-degree murder. She also was found guilty, along with Noel--who was not around during the attack--of the lesser charges of manslaughter and having a mischievous dog that killed someone.

Noel, 60, has been in jail for a year since the attack. He could face four years in prison and Knoller, 46, could get 15 years to life at their sentencing May 10.

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