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Jury reaches verdict in dog attack trial

Thursday, March 21, 2002

AP Special CorrespondentLOS ANGELES (AP) -- The jury in the San Francisco dog mauling trial reached a decision on the fifth and final charge Thursday, and the judge scheduled an afternoon hearing to read the verdict.

The decision came about 90 minutes into the third day of deliberations and after about 11 1/2 hours of deliberation overall. The jury reached its decisions on the other four counts Wednesday.

Robert Noel, 60, and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, 46, are charged in the death of next-door neighbor Diane Whipple, 33, who was fatally mauled on Jan. 26, 2001, outside her apartment by at least one of the two huge Presa Canario dogs kept by the couple.

Knoller was charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. Noel, who wasn't home at the time of the attack, faced only the latter two charges.

Knoller faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder; Noel could face up to four years in prison if convicted of the charges he faces.

"This has been a yearlong fight," prosecutor Jim Hammer told Court TV after the jury sent word it had reached a verdict. "We think justice will be done. Justice is whatever the jury says it is."

On Wednesday, their second day of deliberations, the seven-man, five-woman jury reheard sections of Noel's testimony before the grand jury that indicted the couple.

They asked to hear his responses on questions about the aggressiveness of the dogs and specific incidents in which neighbors claimed they were lunged at by the huge dogs.

Noel answered "no" to the questions. He did not testify during the five-week trial.


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