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Dog Owner: I Tried to Save Victim

March 12, 2002

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Testimony by the woman whose huge dog killed a neighbor was delayed Tuesday while the defense called a doctor to show medical evidence supporting the defendant’s claim that she tried to stop the attack.

Marjorie Knoller had testified tearfully that she did everything she could to stop the attack, including throwing her own body on top of the victim, but the dog bit into Diane Whipple’s throat and caused her to bleed to death.

``It kept going on and on ... and getting worse and he wouldn’t listen,″ Knoller, who is charged with second-degree murder, said Monday of the attack by her dog Bane. ``He wasn’t responding. Every time I thought it would be over and I could get him off of her, it just got worse and worse.″

When asked by defense lawyer Nedra Ruiz what Whipple did, Knoller replied: ``I can’t say except she was lying under me.″

Resumption of Knoller’s testimony Tuesday was delayed while the defense called Dr. David Barcay to testify.

Barcay, emergency room supervisor at Cedars Sinai Medical in Los Angeles, said bruises photographed on Knoller’s body on the day of the attack could be consistent with dog bites.

Barcay added: ``There appear to be some marks on Ms. Whipple that were identical to the marks on Ms. Knoller.″

Knoller was questioned by her attorney for nearly five hours on Monday.

She said that at one point during the attack Whipple ``moved in a manner where she struck me in the right eye with her fist or hand and once she did that Bane bit her on the neck. That was the first time I saw any blood.″

Knoller said she warned Whipple not to move.

``I got back on top of her and I told her to stay down _ ’He’s trying to protect me,‴ Knoller said.

Whipple, a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach, was killed Jan. 26, 2001. The trial was moved from San Francisco, where Whipple was attacked, to Los Angeles because of extensive publicity.

Knoller, 46, faces a second-degree murder count because she was present during the attack. She and her 60-year-old husband, Robert Noel, both face charges of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person.

A medical examiner testified earlier that Whipple’s most devastating wounds came when the animal seized on her neck, crushing her larynx much as a wild animal would attack a prey. He said the bleeding from her neck was so profuse it was unlikely she could have survived even with medical intervention.

Noel’s lawyer rested his case Monday without calling him to testify.

Knoller had said from the outset she wanted to tell her version of events to jurors. Prosecutors are expected to dispute her claim that she tried to save Whipple.

Knoller began her testimony in tears, prompting Assistant District Attorney Jim Hammer to tell reporters outside court, ``The jury will have to decide if she’s crying for herself or Diane Whipple,″

She said she could not explain why the dog attacked as her neighbor was entering her apartment with groceries. She said she had never met Whipple, who lived on the same floor as Knoller and her husband.

``I’m feeling awful,″ she said, sobbing. ``Just thinking about the horrible way that Ms. Whipple died in that hallway causes me great sorrow and I’m in pain for everybody that knew her and spent time with her.″

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