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California Briefing / SAN FRANCISCO

Verdict reinstated in fatal dog attack

August 23, 2008|From the Associated Press

A woman whose dog mauled her neighbor to death could return to prison for several years after a Superior Court judge Friday reinstated the jury's original second- degree murder conviction.

"The defendant acted with conscious disregard for human life," Judge Charlotte Woolard said after listing some of more than 30 incidents in which Marjorie Knoller's dogs bit or lunged at other people, and quoting from a veterinarian's letter warning the dogs were dangerous.

Woolard then reinstated the jury's conviction of second- degree murder for Knoller in connection to the death of Dianne Whipple in 2001. The presiding judge had thrown out that charge and convicted Knoller of involuntary manslaughter in March 2002.

Knoller was sentenced to four years in prison, and was paroled in 2004 after serving about half her sentence.

Whipple was attacked by at least one of two huge Presa Canarios, cared for by Knoller, in the hallway of the San Francisco apartment building where they all lived.

An appeals court reinstated the second-degree murder conviction, but last year the state Supreme Court said the trial judge and appeals court were both wrong and sent the case back down for reconsideration. Knoller now faces 15 years to life in prison when she's sentenced on Sept. 22.

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