Friday, August 29, 2014

Murder LA 000056

Diane Whipple
In 2002 Los Angeles hosted the trial of Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. Knoller and Noel, a married couple who operated a lawfirm out of their San Francisco apartment -- both lawyers -- couldn't get a fair trial in their hometown due to the infamy and ire resulting from their story.

If you were conscious of such things back in 2001, you may recall Diane Whipple, the lacrosse coach who was attacked and killed by dogs right outside the door of her own apartment, her keys still in the lock.

The Presa Canario dogs, Bane and Hera, belonged to Knoller and Noel. Well, that's who was looking after them, anyway. The "kids", as Marjorie referred to them in letters, actually belonged to Paul Schneider, an inmate serving a life sentence whom the couple met while doing legal work.

Illustration by Schneider
via SFGate
Apparently Knoller and Noel both fell for Schneider. They all shared a love of Tolkien and dogs, and the couple took advantage of attorney-client priviledge to send him romantic messages, including Marjorie professing her love in French and attaching cosplay photos of herself dressed in wigs and capes and such, and Robert eager to share his wife. Schneider reciprocated, drawing pictures of the three of them in fantasy settings with the dogs. Supposedly Marjorie wrote that she had engaged in sexual intercourse with Bane.

Fun fact: according to a 2002 episode of documentary series Mugshots, Schneider, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, stabbed a lawyer in court with a knife he made in prison.

Shortly before the dog attack Knoller and Noel legally adopted Schneider as their son. Their 38-year-old son.

Shortly after the dog attack they insisted the dogs had never shown aggression towards humans but many neighbors contradicted this.

Knoller and Noel
At trial Marjorie claimed that she did everything she could to stop the attack, even throwing herself over Diane Whipple, to no avail, before securing the dogs again. Her lawyer showed a blown-up photo taken by the first responders of the blood-spattered Knoller. The prosecution responded that Knoller's account of getting the dogs under control and put away conflicted with the first responders, who saw one of the dogs still roaming the hallway.

Both dogs were put down. Robert Noel, who was not present during the attack, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. His wife was additionally found guilty of second-degree murder. The legal system has gone back and forth since on the murder conviction but after several appeals the California Supreme Court let it stand. She is still in prison.

Robert Noel has become a baker since being disbarred.

Whipple's keys in her door