- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) Witnesses against a San Francisco couple on trial in the dog-mauling death of a neighbor testified yesterday about other frightening encounters with the killer dogs, which the prosecution cited as evidence the owners should have known of their temperament.
The dogs killed Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach, last year in a hallway outside her San Francisco apartment.
Marjorie Knoller, 46, who was present during the attack, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous animal that killed a human being. Her husband, Robert Noel, 60, faces the latter two charges.
Rhea Wertman-Tallent testified that two days before Miss Whipple's death, the dogs became agitated by another dog across a street in their neighborhood.
"The dogs were reared up on their hind legs. Their teeth were out and they were lunging. I was trying to hurry to get away," Miss Wertman-Tallent said.
Abraham Taylor said one of the dogs broke loose during another encounter and charged at him and the dog he was walking. He said he was able to force the charging dog to the ground.
Skip Cooley, who lived next door to the defendants, testified that one dog once lunged at him as he got out of an elevator.
He also said the dogs were normally docile toward him, but would became "attentive" toward his 5-foot-tall wife, who weighed less than the 100-pound animals.


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