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Attorney Marjorie Knoller was indicted Tuesday in San Francisco on charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and failure to control a mischievous dog in the Jan. 26 mauling death of Diane Whipple. Her husband and law partner, Robert Noel, was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to control the dog. An arrest warrant was issued for Knoller with bail of $2 million, and another for Noel, with bail of $1 million. The two surrendered to authorities Tuesday evening in Tehama County in Northern California. Knoller could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges. Noel could face four years if convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge, and four years for failing to control the dog. The indictments cap a grand jury investigation that began March 9. The gruesome death of Whipple, a 33-year-old lacrosse teacher, sparked public outcry, which was exacerbated by the subsequent comments and actions of Noel and Knoller. Tuesday morning, Knoller suffered an anxiety attack while testifying. She was examined by emergency medical technicians, found to be OK, and later resumed her testimony. The circus atmosphere continued Tuesday afternoon when the two were stopped by the California Highway Patrol on Interstate 80 in Yolo County for alleged reckless driving. They were released an hour later, according to District Attorney Terence Hallinan. Tuesday evening, authorities tailed Noel and Knoller to Tehama County, where they surrendered. The couple was expected to be returned to San Francisco’s Hall of Justice for formal booking on the charges by the San Francisco criminal grand jury. The indictments were signed by Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie, who was overseeing the master criminal calendar. Whipple was attacked by the couple’s Presa Canario dogs in the hallway of her Pacific Heights apartment, where Noel and Knoller also lived. Knoller was taking the dogs, Bane and Hera, for a walk when they attacked Whipple. Noel was not present at the time. In a letter to the San Francisco district attorney’s office soon after the incident, Noel claimed that Whipple may have brought the attack on herself because of perfume or other fragrances that might have provoked the dogs. Both Noel and Knoller testified before the grand jury over a period of nearly three days, explaining why they believe they were not culpable in Whipple’s death. A total of 39 witnesses testified before the grand jury. Hallinan took the case to the grand jury for a decision on whether the two should be charged with second-degree murder or a lesser crime. The DA initially said that he thought the charges would probably be involuntary manslaughter, and indicated he was uncertain about elevating them to the murder level. The grand jury’s decision removes the onus from Hallinan’s office in case a trial jury later decides the crimes were involuntary manslaughter or less. The extraordinarily high bail indicates that the district attorney’s office believes Noel and Knoller are flight risks, according to investigators. Knoller has already said they will not accept a plea bargain, but that they want to go to trial to prove their innocence. Noel said he would seek a change of venue, citing pre-trial publicity. He suggested the trial be held in a remote area such as Plumas County. Noel and Knoller were keeping the dogs for Paul “Cornfed” Schneider, who purchased the dogs from his Pelican Bay prison cell. Whipple’s partner, Sharon Smith, filed a wrongful death claim against Noel and Knoller on March 12 that could test California law, which currently does not allow surviving domestic partners to sue for wrongful death. Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, has introduced legislation to change the law. Smith’s attorney, Michael Cardoza, said Tuesday, “From the get-go, Sharon and I have said this is a second-degree murder.” Cardoza said he was unhappy that the district attorney’s office had suggested they might try the case as an involuntary manslaughter. “Thank God for the grand jury. Mucho kudos to them.” The case was presented to the grand jury over a two-week period by prosecutors James Hammer and Kimberly Guilfoyle. “I’m glad that Jim Hammer, whom I call the ‘Velvet Hammer,’ presented the case fairly to the grand jury,” Cardoza added.

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