Knoller Conviction Reinstated in Whipple Murder

The on-going litigation over the murder case of lawyers Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel has resulted in another ruling in San Franscisco. A Superior Court judge has reinstated the conviction of Knoller in the 2002 second-degree murder of her apartment neighbor Diane Whipple. Whipple was savagely attacked by Knoller’s and Noel’s two Presa Canario dogs. The case has taken many legal turns and this ruling will now return Knoller to jail.

The Whipple case helped establish both criminal and civil precedents on the liability for vicious dogs. The common law has long recognized a “one free bite rule,” where owners are not strictly liable for dogs (as they are for wild animals) until they have notice of the vicious propensities of their dog. The rule is a bit of a misnomer since you actually do not need a free bite to be put on such notice — as in the case of Whipple. Various neighbors complained about the dogs, which the couple inherited from a convict. Paul “Cornfed” Schneider is a reputed member of the Aryan Brotherhood and was planning a guard-dog business to be called “Dog-O-War.” Three days after Whipple’s death, the couple adopted Schneider as their son.

Judge Charlotte Woolard ruled that Knoller, 53, “acted with conscious disregard for human life” when two Presa Canarios Whipple, a 33-year-old lacrosse coach, in the hallway of their apartment building on Jan. 26, 2001.

The mauling of Whipple lasted for 10 minutes and produced a horrific scene before the gods, Bane and Hera were pulled away. Whipple suffered 77 wounds and lost one-third of her blood.

Knoller never called 9-11 and was accused of being largely passive during much of the attack.

Knoller’s second-degree murder conviction of Knoller was subsequently overturned by Judge James Warren for a lesser, involuntary manslaughter conviction. She served three years of a four-year prison sentence, and was released on parole with credit for good behavior while in prison.

Noel was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and also spent three years in prison.

In 2007, the state Supreme Court ruled that Warren used the wrong standard in reducing Knoller’s conviction and ordered a new hearing on whether the second-degree murder conviction was the correct one. The court this week reinstated the verdict.

Knoller, who now lives in Florida, faces a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Knoller Conviction Reinstated in Whipple Murder

  1. As a dog owner and dog lover, 15 years isn’t long enough for this murderer. She had to know her dogs were vicious and not calling 9-11 is sinful. She gives dog owners a bad name.

  2. In September 1987, the Biden campaign ran into serious trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party.

    Within days, it was also discovered that as a first-year law student at Syracuse Law School, Biden had plagiarized a law review article in a class paper he wrote. Biden said the act was inadvertent due to his not knowing the proper rules of citation, and Biden was permitted to retake the course after receiving a grade of F.

    Biden also released his undergraduate grades, which started off poorly and remained unexceptional. Further, when questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school Biden had claimed falsely to have graduated in the “top half” of his class, (when he actually graduated 76th in a class of 85) that he had attended on a full scholarship, and had received three degrees. In fact he had received two majors, History and Political Science, and a single B.A., as well as a half scholarship based on financial need.

    Faced with these revelations, Biden withdrew from the nomination race on September 23, 1987, saying his candidacy had been overrun by “the exaggerated shadow” of his “mistakes”.

  3. Here, here, rafflaw, I agree completely. The attack and the resulting passivity Knoller showed during the attack is disgusting.

    She let her dogs kill that woman.

  4. The fact that Knoller did NOT call 911 during this savage attack tells me Knoller had no concern for this Ms. Whipple’s safety or life. I think Knoller is back where she belongs. She won’t be allowed to keep any pets in prison.

  5. Rafflaw’s right. I too am a dog owner and I’ve been in situations while walking my dog where another dog owner had an aggressive animal, who attacked my dog, and stood by doing nothing to control his dog.

    He even got angry with me when I kicked his dog in the chops, saying “their dogs let them fight”.

    When I pointed out to him that the next kick to the chops would be to his chops, he got the message and controlled his dog.

    But that was me. Not everyone can defend themselves or their animals, and dog owners who possess dogs as weapons are an ignorant and dangerous crowd. And theres a lot of them.

    I remember this case well, and it was a horrific example of criminal negligence and down right apathy for human life.

    15 years is a long, long time, and is fine with me.

    Longer is ok too.

  6. Hi, Jon

    I just heard about Knoller’s resentencing on NPR. I was Googling to find out more and turned up your fine site. Glad to find your blog; we enjoy your insights on Keith Olbermann.

    In March, 2002 my husband and I were taking an early train from Prague to Berlin. The gentleman seated in front of us was reading a lengthy article with a big headline in the Czech morning paper. I noticed a photo of a very familiar face – it was Marjorie Knoller! She was looking very anguished in the picture, so I asked (after ascertaining that he spoke English) if she had been found guilty. He said, “Oh, yes. It was a terrible thing.”

    When we got to Berlin, we met up with some friends who had come by way of London. We’re all from San Francisco, so I told them about big Knoller-Noel news in the Czech paper. A friend said that he’d seen it in a British paper and commented, “The whole world hates those people!”

  7. TrishB,
    It is amazing that stories like this can have a world wide effect. The arrogance of Knoller still amazes me. The world is better off with her behind bars.

  8. martha
    1, August 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm
    In September 1987, the Biden campaign…

    Martha, seriously, who gives a f***? Go troll elsewhere.

  9. Not to be a party-pooper, but second-degree murder seems a little stiff in this case. I knew someone who deliberately shot and killed his girlfriend’s ex-husband. He planned for this a month in advance. After he shot the guy the first time, he shot him again on the ground, just to make sure he was dead. He got 17 1/2 years in prison for second degree murder. The Knoller case doesn’t come close to this, legally or morally. I think she got what she deserve the first time around.

  10. knoller AND noel should both get the death penalty. They should have the dogs turned on them as their punishment and the dogs shouldnt be called off until they are both dead. That is fair, especially with how they didnt care about the young women at all. These kinds of people are why this world is going to $#It. They are terrible people and I God will have his day with them. They deserve to DIE like Ms. Whipple did and I hope they do, savagely too!

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