San Francisco Lawyer Convicted of Second Degree Murder

By: Wallin & Klarich

Dog mauling conviction for second degree murder in California results in 15 year to life sentence for former lawyer

A San Francisco County Superior Court Judge sentenced Marjorie Knoller to 15 years to life in prison for the mauling death of her neighbor Diane Whipple. Whipple was attacked and killed by Knoller’s two 100-pound-plus Presa Canario dogs in a Pacific Heights apartment building. An autopsy later revealed that Whipple bled to death.

The 2001 attack sparked the heated trial which ended Monday September 22, 2008. “This was the first time in California history that a person was given a murder sentence in connection with a dog mauling,” said Deputy California Attorney General Amy Haddix. The presiding judge said that Ms. Knoller “left Ms. Whipple in the hallway to die.”

Knoller was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison and ordered to pay $10,000 to a victims’ fund and $6,800 in restitution to Whipple’s partner Sharon Enlow Smith. Knoller’s California murder defense attorney claims that there were nine or 10 significant trial errors in the case and claimed that although they will appeal the decision, the success of the appeal “depends on whether we get a judgment controlled by law and not San Francisco politics.”

In cases of this nature there is often a very fine line between a conviction for second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. The punishment for 2nd degree murder is 15 years to life while the punishment for involuntary manslaughter can be as little as probation with no time in prison.

It is critical that you retain the services of a highly skilled California criminal defense law firm when facing serious criminal charges. Who your criminal defense lawyer is can often make the difference between a 15 year to life sentence and probationary sentence. Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorneys have over 30 years of experience and are sure to get you the help you need in your time of need. Call us now at 1-888-749-0034 or visit our website at

Posted In: Violent Crimes