Dog Mauling: Knoller and Noel found guilty on all counts
March 21, 2002 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Dog Mauling: Knoller and Noel found guilty on all counts of manslaughter, and Knoller becomes the third person ever in the US to be convicted of murder by dog.
posted by kfury (39 comments total)
I'm guessing the jury didn't like it that they were having sex with those dogs. That shit's straight outta South Park.
posted by gnz2001 at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2002

Good. People like Knoller and Noel give dog owners a bad name.

This was funny:
Hammer, who studied to be a priest but decided instead to become a prosecutor, and Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, a former underwear model,

sounds like a TV show that would run for three episodes.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2002

Well maybe Ruiz misstepped when she; suggested that Whipple was resonsible for her own death because she hadn't done anything after an attack prior to the fatal one, accused Whipple's partner of lying, and said that the D.A. was pandering to the gay community in San Francisco. There's a weird sort of symmetry here. Knoller and Noel would never have been on trial if they hadn't been such a**hole lawyers and Knoller hires a lawyer that manages to be as infuriating as they were.
posted by rdr at 2:19 PM on March 21, 2002

boo yaa! poetic justice is the shiznit yall. what the dilly yo!
posted by luriete at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2002

intentional, unlawful act that was done in "conscious disregard" of the known risk to human life.

Knoller will appeal, claiming that there was no way that she could have known that the dogs would kill. What this case is hinging on is the agency of the dogs. Are they analogous to "loaded guns" that have the innate potential to kill, or animals that exhibit behavior which can never be predicted accurately?

Also, the underwear model and priest backgrounds are pretty funny, but can anyone confirm that Ruiz majored in drama at USF? Wonder if they taught her how to crawl around on all fours there...

Last, for those who watched the live coverage: did you see Knoller look at the camera when she let forth her emotional reaction at the guilty verdict? Was that on purpose??!? Creepy.
posted by zekinskia at 2:26 PM on March 21, 2002

I didn't follow the case closely, but weren't the suggestions of bestiality not allowed in the trial? Or did it end up getting introduced?
posted by cell divide at 2:28 PM on March 21, 2002

Knoller & Noel's complete lack of remorse and sympathy for the woman that their out-of-control dog killed makes it very easy for me to accept this verdict. Society is better off without them.
posted by laz-e-boy at 2:34 PM on March 21, 2002

I doubt all of the charges will hold up on appeal (especially if Knoller/Noel have the sense to hire a new lawyer), but right now I am doin' a happy little dance.
posted by whatnot at 2:51 PM on March 21, 2002

The bestiality allegations (which seemed to have hard evidence behind them) were NOT allowed to be brought up during the trial.

Ruiz was the worst possible choice as counsel. And perhaps...that's grounds for appeal right there. Stranger plans have been hatched.
posted by ltracey at 2:59 PM on March 21, 2002

cell, AFAIK a lot of the background would not be admissible -- like the (unproven) talk of bestiality and even the exact relationship they had with the guy in jail -- although he was cited as the trainer of the dogs and a letter written to him was used as evidence. Juries don't like defendants who consort with felons, much.

For review, here's Dogbitelaw's analysis of the case. They seem to think that the efforts by Knoller to stop the attack would exonerate her from at least the Second-Degree Murder charge.

One of the easiest appeals would be against the introduction of those 77 photos of a bitten, dead Whipple -- this could be considered prejudicial. The ferocity of the attack is not really part of the charge against Knoller and Noel.
posted by dhartung at 3:03 PM on March 21, 2002

I'm certainly happy about this too, but having also not followed it too closely, I wonder - are these two universally despised? Do they have backers other than family members? Just curious who would be defending them and what their arguments might be.
posted by kokogiak at 3:14 PM on March 21, 2002

The ferocity of the attack is not really part of the charge against Knoller and Noel.

Why wouldn't it be? (That's a straight question. I don't know the law.) The ferocity of the dog is something that the couple should have been aware of. It indicates how negligent they were.
posted by jpoulos at 3:37 PM on March 21, 2002

I can't think of a person I know in the Bay Area who 1) hasn't heard of the horrible Whipple case and 2) has anything good to say about Noel & Knoller. Certainly despised in this part of the universe.
posted by Lynsey at 3:42 PM on March 21, 2002

The ferocity of the attack is relevant to sentencing, less so to determining guilt.
posted by NortonDC at 4:00 PM on March 21, 2002

The dogs weren't under control. Simple enough. I have a Shih Tzu and a Tibetan Spaniel. They're always leashed. They're 15 pounds each. Course, they just jump up and lick people.

The ferocity of the attack shows that Knoller didn't do much, if anything, to stop the attack.
posted by Mondo at 4:09 PM on March 21, 2002

The ferocity of the attack may be an element of guilt on the murder charge; that the dog was so very vicious and the attack so prolonged may be viewed as proof that Knoller should have known the dog's propensity toward violence and did not do all that she could to avoid it, therefore cementing the concept of "conscious disregard."

If I recall -- I have not followed this trial closely at all -- there had been a prior attack on Whipple, I don't know if that information was admitted into evidence, but it would certainly be further proof of Knoller's lack of regard. She knew the dog was dangerous.

Ruiz was the worst possible choice as counsel. And perhaps...that's grounds for appeal right there.

Ruiz was competant, she was simply not able to offer a compelling argument and required admonishment for her zealous approach toward her nutball exonerating theories. That's not really grounds for appeal. Hell, an attorney who sleeps through portions of a trial isn't grounds for an appeal anymore, having one who goes over and above in the defense surely wouldn't be either.
posted by Dreama at 4:11 PM on March 21, 2002

Kokogiak - I haven't heard anyone defend them, but locally, yes, they're universally despised. Early on, they very publically blamed the victim, threatened to sue the Department of Corrections, and threatened to reveal embarrassing details about DA Hallinan. For weeks after the attack, not a day went by without some new, lurid twist, each thing more bizarre than the last. Strategically, their best line of defense was to have the trial forced out of SF since they can't get a fair trial here. The PR job they did simply made a fair trial impossible here. (For anyone who hasn't followed the case, start here, then sfgate runs the other links to the story on the right side of the page. Pick the most shocking one, and repeat until nauseous.)

Here is the earlier attorneys having sex with dogs thread.
posted by swell at 4:19 PM on March 21, 2002

I'm not normally one to advocate new laws or regulations, but here's a suggestion: anyone who purchases, adopts, or otherwise obtains a dog of a certain breed, or even better, over a certain weight, must take a course in Dog Safety & Training. Something along the lines of what responsible gun owners do; people could learn proper techniques for training their dog, learn about feeding & caring for their dog, and, in light of recent events, learn about HOW TO CONTROL their dog. The class could include legal hoo-hahs to ensure that these dog owners understand the potential for violence, and that they, the owners, could/should/will be criminally liable for any death or damage caused by their dog. Does this sound remotely reasonable? It seems that every month or so, we hear about a person (often a child) being mauled and/or killed by a dog. Maybe such "dog-safety" training would make a difference.
posted by davidmsc at 4:55 PM on March 21, 2002

Although I agree with the Death Caused by Mischievous Animal and Involuntary Manslaughter charges, I don't see the second degree murder charges. I find it hard to believe she held malice or intent to injure Whipple. She seemed to be afraid for others with her dog(s) around and even warned others. This shows neglegence, but not intent.
posted by Nauip at 4:58 PM on March 21, 2002

AFAIK, there is no indication that she did not let the dog attack Whipple just for kicks. I believe these people are sick fucks who set about to see "what would happen." Social psychopaths.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on March 21, 2002

five fresh fish: Well, even though I have no problem with these people being put away for a very long time, they still deserve the presumption of innocence.
posted by bshort at 5:58 PM on March 21, 2002

Okay, since everyone seems to agree that Knoller and Noel are human trash, more or less, can we move on to the MeFi Creative Sentencing (tm) portion of the thread? I'll start.

Wheel of Pain! Wheel of Pain!
posted by Ty Webb at 6:06 PM on March 21, 2002

I just *knew* someone would pipe up with a "well, now, fishy, don't forget they're innocent until guilty!"

[rolls eyes]

They were presumed innocent, and they have been found guilty. Which, I must add, has nothing to do with what I wrote.

Let me go a step further, though: by virtue of the evidence presented at the trial, we know these people are sick fucks.

I just happen to believe that they're sick enough to have deliberately set about to create a situation in which they could experience the thrill of having their dog rip the living shit out of someone.

Creative Sentencing? Let's give them paper cuts, so that they're bleeding a little, bind their hands and feet, and toss them into a chicken coop. Being pecked to death over the course of a few days would almost be adequate punishment.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on March 21, 2002

Okay, okay, Wheel of Pain, but they're also being chased around and around and around by vicious dogs. We could hook the Wheel up to California's power grid and presto! goodbye power shortage!
posted by Ty Webb at 6:48 PM on March 21, 2002

Maybe Andrea Yates can give them a bath.
posted by Mack Twain at 6:49 PM on March 21, 2002


And what's the creative punishment for Andrea? Surely not just the act of bathing those two freaks.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2002

Nauip, under California law, proving 2nd degree murder is possible if defendant did something "inherently dangerous" with a "conscious disregard for human life." In fact the California version of involuntary manslaughter comes closer to what other states might call reckless conduct. See S.192. Put it this way: in California, sufficient recklessness can support what they call here "implied malice", and thus 2nd degree murder.

In most states, by contrast, you'd have to show direct intent to injure, to support a 2nd-degree murder charge.
posted by dhartung at 9:11 PM on March 21, 2002

OK, I have to admit I haven't followed this case at all, but I read the SFGate breakdown and you know what was the most disturbing thing? This. Why does this always happen after these kind of incidents? People clamoring and lusting after these giant, evil, man-eating dogs. If there was a breed of dog that could suddenly grow 12-feet tall and would randomly spew lava onto infants before detonating in a freakish, radioactive cloud people would be falling all over themselves to get one. You pet people are so disturbing.
posted by umberto at 10:07 PM on March 21, 2002

For some reason, umberto, your post reminded me of this tidbit from News of the Weird:

Chaddrick Dickson, 25, was hospitalized briefly in Monroe, La., in December, after being wounded by the .22-caliber bullet he was fooling around with. Dickson said he was trying to remove the gunpowder by smashing the bullet's casing against the floor. He said he needed the gunpowder because he wanted to mix it into his dog's food to make the dog meaner. [Seattle Times, 12-30-01]

And the Andrea Yates bathing thing? Genius.
posted by diddlegnome at 11:06 PM on March 21, 2002

Any word yet on whether an appeal by counselor Ruiz and Knoller will include the "dog thought she tasted good" rationalization for killing?

It's worth a try. Others rely upon it.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:42 PM on March 21, 2002

Perhaps. Then they merely face a zoning violation unless they had the criminal foresight to have their hallway declared an abbattoir.

They are lawyers, after all.
posted by umberto at 12:32 AM on March 22, 2002

I don't see the second degree murder charges

I don't either. It seemed like it would be negligent homicide to me.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:36 AM on March 22, 2002

Umberto: The comment about the 12 foot dogs was the first thing I've ever read here that made me laugh out loud.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:32 AM on March 22, 2002

I don't like big mean dogs, but if there were 12 foot ones that spewed lava, you bet your ass I'd want one.
posted by jpoulos at 8:00 AM on March 22, 2002

The second-degree murder charge, I'm thinking, is because A: Knoller had prior knowledge of how dangerous the dogs were (over 35 vicious encounters and attacks on other animals, including a serious bite to Noel), B: Knoller knew that she could not control Bane alone, much less both dogs together, and C: Knoller took the two dogs out by herself, without using a muzzle or any kind of controlling device on either dog.

If you've had over 30 warnings that you are unable to prevent your dogs from attacking others, and you proceed anyway with callous disregard for the danger posed to the people living in your apartment building, aren't you liable for the consequences of your actions?
posted by bjennings at 10:52 AM on March 22, 2002

You pet people are so disturbing Funny, I find people who don't like pets to be extremely disturbing.

I have a totally non-agressive dog. He wouldn't hurt a fly, but if he did, I would have him put to sleep. He's never off leash, and we have him in obedience training. You're wrong, most pet people don't want mean nasty dogs.

That said, the fighting dog thing is a serious problem here in Oakland (down in the flat areas.) My husband and I made the mistake of going to the pound when looking for a dog, and it was full of rotts, violent and beaten up and horrible. When we were shopping for a leash and tag for our new dog (a rescue dog...sooo cute and non-agressive,) we saw a bunch of people come in with nasty, agressive, teeth-baring, strong dogs and were shopping for muzzles, "The stronger the better." It's very sad. How can people do that to dogs?

Those two a-hole lawyers got what they deserved. I hope they have fun in prison and I hope all the bad stuff that happens to people in prision happens to them. They'd probably like it though.
posted by aacheson at 12:53 PM on March 22, 2002

There are no "mean" dogs, only irresponsible owners.
posted by jpoulos at 2:12 PM on March 22, 2002

Yah, right, just like there are no social psychopaths. They're not "mean" people with effed-up brain wiring: they're just people who need kindness and understanding.

I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible for a dog to be born "mean." And, indeed, I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible to breed a "mean" dog. Dogs are bred for many other traits; meanness is no exception.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2002

Ruiz was the worst possible choice as counsel. And perhaps...that's grounds for appeal right there.
Look, these two scumbags like to adopt Neo-Nazi felons and have sex with dogs who kill people: I'm not surprised that their choice of an attorney wasn't that perfect
posted by matteo at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2002

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