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Marjorie Knoller Given 4 Year Jail Term in San Francisco Dog Mauling Case - 2002-07-15

A San Francisco judge has handed down a four-year jail sentence to a woman whose dogs killed her neighbor. The woman's husband is already serving a four-year prison term.

The case horrified and captivated San Franciscans, and it may not yet be over. Monday, Judge James Warren sentenced Marjorie Knoller to the maximum penalty of four years for involuntary manslaughter, saying she had shown no remorse and had lied under oath about her dogs' aggressive behavior.

Knoller and her husband were convicted in March in the mauling death of sports coach Diane Whipple by the couple's two large Presa Canario dogs. Knoller was walking the dogs when they attacked and killed the neighbor in the hallway of their apartment building last year.

The judge earlier threw out a separate conviction for second-degree murder, saying although Knoller had been negligent in handling her animals, the evidence did not show she knew they would kill anyone.

The victim's roommate and partner, Sharon Smith, had hoped a longer sentence, but says she is satisfied.

"I think given all the possibilities that could have happened this morning, her being sentenced on manslaughter was absolutely my best hope and so I'm very glad that we got that and I'm glad that it was the aggravated [maximum] term as well," she said.

Prosecutors were also pleased with the sentence for manslaughter but have appealed the judge's decision to dismiss the murder conviction. An appeals court will decide whether to reinstate it.

With time already served, Marjorie Knoller will be eligible for release in 14 months.