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Diane Alexis Whipple (January 21, 1968-January 26, 2001) was killed by two Presa Canario dogs in San Francisco in January, 2001.
The two owners of the dogs — Marjorie Knoller and her husband Robert Noel, both attorneys — were sentenced to prison terms for manslaughter (a judge dropped a second-degree murder conviction against Knoller, but a California state court of appeals reversed that ruling in May 2005; the California Supreme Court in late July 2005 agreed that it will review this case).
Knoller, a small woman, failed to restrain her two large dogs when they attacked Whipple. Noel was not present during the attack. Their convictions revolved around the accusation that they knew the dogs were aggressive towards other people and did not take sufficient precautions with such large and dangerous animals; whether they had actually trained the dogs to attack and fight remained unclear. Allegations have been made that the two may have sexually abused the dogs, and the prosecution contends that may have triggered the attack. The judge wouldn't allow these claims into evidence. As of early 2004, both Knoller and Noel have served their terms for the manslaughter conviction; Knoller is out on bail while her conviction is under appeal.
The question of whether Whipple's female life partner could sue for damages caused considerable legal complications which have yet to be resolved fully.
Before her fateful encounter with the dogs, the 33-year-old Whipple had been the lacrosse coach at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga, California.
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