SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to review the murder conviction of a San Francisco attorney whose dogs fatally mauled a neighbor in the hallway of an apartment building here.
The six justices unanimously agreed to review a May appellate court ruling that reinstated Marjorie Knoller‘s second-degree murder conviction. Superior Court Judge James Warren had vacated the jury’s murder verdict and reduced the conviction to manslaughter.
The 1st District Court of Appeal, in reinstating the murder conviction, said Warren erroneously concluded that in order for Knoller to be convicted of murder, she had to know that one of the two giant Presa Canario dogs would kill.
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The appeals court ordered the case sent back to Warren to review the decision under a different standard: that Knoller disregarded a known risk that the dogs presented, including the viciousness of Bane, the male dog mostly responsible for Diane Whipple’s 2001 death.
The 2001 mauling of the 33-year-old woman made national news because of the nature in which Whipple was killed and because it was two attorneys who kept the 100-pound-plus dogs in their Pacific Heights apartment. They said they were keeping the canines on behalf of a state prisoner, who was a white supremacist accused of running an attack dog circuit from prison. The two eventually adopted the prisoner as their son.
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