Partner of woman killed by dog says owners should be jailed

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com February 09 2001 12:00 AM ET

The partner of a woman killed by a 120-pound dog in their San Francisco apartment building last month says the owners of the dog should be jailed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sharon Smith, a vice president at the Charles Schwab investment firm, says her late partner, Diane Alexis Whipple, a lacrosse coach, was killed because of the laxness of the dog’s owners. Whipple was mauled to death in the doorway of her apartment on January 26 by a Presa Canario dog, one of a pair owned by lawyers Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller. “I want to see the two of them locked up,” Smith said. “This isn’t a car accident, where it happens and you grieve and then move on. To me, this isn’t ‘They’re my nice neighbors down the hall, and it’s a terrible tragedy, and we’ll get through it.’ I believe they knew exactly what they had—what the dogs were capable of—and they let this happen.” Smith said she has hired a former prosecutor, Michael Cardoza, to oversee the local district attorney’s investigation of the episode. Noel and Knoller have said that the dogs are gentle and suggested that Whipple brought the attack on herself by wearing perfume or steroids that would have attracted the dogs to her. Smith said Whipple was afraid of the dogs, having been bitten by one a month before her death, and would check the hallway to make sure they weren’t there before opening her apartment door. The dogs had allegedly been bred via the services of an attack-dog business operated, through intermediaries, by Paul Schneider, a white supremacist serving a prison term for attempted murder. Noel and Knoller legally adopted Schneider three days after Whipple’s death. Smith said the couple’s suggestion that Whipple was somehow responsible for her death is reprehensible. “They’re just two attorneys conniving and trying to manipulate things to save themselves,” she said. “These are not normal people. I have nothing to say to them anyway. I just want to see them in prison.” Smith said she also plans to sue the couple, with any damages awarded as a result to go into a scholarship fund for female lacrosse players.