supreme court announced in a unanimous decision that a San
Francisco superior court must reconsider whether
Marjorie Knoller, who served time for the fatal dog
mauling of lesbian Diane Whipple, should have been
sentenced under a more severe murder conviction and
thereby be returned to prison, the Los Angeles
Times reported on Friday.
The court ruled
that while the judge who dismissed the jury's
second-degree murder conviction interpreted the statute too
narrowly, the standard used by the appeals court to
reinstate the conviction was too broad.
"The court of
appeal set the bar too low.... But the trial court set
the bar too high," Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote in the
already served 33 months in prison for involuntary
manslaughter, may face a 15-year-to-life sentence.
Riordan, who represented Knoller in her appeal, was quoted
by the Times as saying that he found the
decision "fair" and that he is sure a trial judge will once
again throw out the case, due to insufficient evidence
to support a second-degree murder conviction. Deputy
Atty. Gen. Amy Haddix counters Riordan, saying that
the second-degree murder conviction will be
pleased with the result," Haddix said, according to
the Times. "We are pretty optimistic about our
chances in superior court."
charged with the 2001 murder of Whipple, who was killed by
Knoller's two dogs while she was trying to enter her own
apartment. The dogs, both Presa Canario-Mastiff
mixes, weighed more than 100 pounds each and had
threatened other people in the months before the
mauling. Knoller and her husband were keeping them for a
state prison inmate they had befriended.
Whipple, 33, was
a college lacrosse coach at St. Mary's College of
California. She was living with her life partner,
Sharon Smith, at the time of the attack. (The