A federal appeals court has upheld the murder conviction of a former San Francisco attorney who allowed her unmuzzled dog to fatally maul a neighbor in an apartment corridor 15 years ago.
The judge at Marjorie Knoller’s trial went too far by threatening to jail Knoller’s lawyer if she continued to raise objections during the prosecutor’s closing arguments, but state courts reasonably concluded the error had no impact on the jury’s verdict, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Knoller had been walking her dog Bane, a 140-pound Presa Canario, on the roof of the Pacific Heights apartment building in January 2001 and had returned with him to the corridor when he bolted away and attacked Diane Whipple, a neighbor who was carrying groceries to her apartment. The dog’s 100-pound mate, Hera, charged out of Knoller’s apartment and may have joined the attack.
Whipple, 33, the lacrosse coach at St. Mary’s College, bled to death from 77 wounds.
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