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They call her “the dog deputy.” That’s probably why San Francisco, Calif., Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Guilfoyle, 30, has been handed the highest-profile case of her young prosecutorial career. She is the lead prosecutor in the dog-mauling death of Diane Whipple. In a sense, she’s been preparing for this case for a decade. “I always knew I wanted to be on the prosecution side,” Guilfoyle said Tuesday. “I thought it was a noble position. You know when to give a break and when not to.” District Attorney Terence Hallinan said Guilfoyle was assigned the case by Assistant DA Donna Lee, who heads the general litigation unit. “I think she’s doing a fine job and I want her to stay with it, even if it goes to homicide,” the district attorney said. As an undergraduate at UC-Davis, Guilfoyle volunteered at the Yolo County, Calif., district attorney’s office as a mediator in consumer fraud and environmental protection cases. To help pay for tuition at the University of San Francisco School of Law, she modeled lingerie for Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s. She passed the bar on her first try after graduating in 1994, and was hired as a prosecutor in 1995 by then-San Francisco DA Arlo Smith, who promptly lost his job in an election to Terence Hallinan. He cleaned house and Guilfoyle was swept out. “We knew the positions were at-will and Mr. Hallinan wanted to hire his own people,” she said. So she headed south and joined the prosecutor ranks of former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti. In L.A., she tried violent and serious felonies from homicides, attempted murders and carjackings to assaults, robberies and arson. Her former bosses thought highly of her. “Ms. Guilfoyle has exemplary trial advocacy skills,” wrote Victoria Adams, her supervisor, in a 1999 evaluation. “She has done over 50 adjudications, winning 97 percent of her cases.” Stephen Kay, another DA supervisor and a former Manson family prosecutor, wrote in a 2000 evaluation that Guilfoyle is “exceptionally talented and hardworking.” Defense attorney Jasper Monti, who opposed Guilfoyle in a recent case, has another take. He called her “quick and intelligent,” but also said she could be deceptive. “One thing she’s prone to do and that is she cuts corners and fudges the truth,” Monti said. “That’s good from a defense standpoint, because when she does that you can nail her. She also tries to take credit when she doesn’t deserve it.” He declined to provide a specific example. During Guilfoyle’s four-year stint in Los Angeles, she became expert at animal control prosecutions in a city that is notorious for its dog fighting and animal abuse cases. That work helped prepare her for what will probably be the year’s biggest case in San Francisco. “I’m known as the dog deputy,” she said with a laugh. “They said they wanted me to handle it.” Last year, she was the prosecutor in the case of Stephen Maul — who is represented by Monti — and is accused of animal abuse for allegedly biting his dog Boo’s neck. The charges were filed as felonies, but when the San Francisco DA’s office reduced them to misdemeanors, another deputy took over the matter. On the Whipple case, Guilfoyle is working with police Lt. Henry Hunter to gather evidence. Hallinan has said he may file charges against Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, who owned the dogs that mauled Whipple to death in the doorway of her Pacific Heights apartment on Jan. 26. On Tuesday, Guilfoyle met with Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Dale Sanderson to get some tips on prosecuting deaths from dog bites. In 1989, Sanderson won an involuntary manslaughter conviction of a man whose pit bull killed a child who came near his marijuana-growing patch. In his conversation with Guilfoyle, Sanderson said he plans to make suggestions on how to charge the case and share insights he learned from jurors after his trial. Guilfoyle, a native San Franciscan who is half Irish and half Puerto Rican, said her love for animals gives her added incentive in prosecuting cases where they are involved. “It’s great to work with animal care and control people,” she said. She said Hallinan monitors the progress of the investigation, but leaves the day-to-day operation of it to her. “He knows I’ll take care of business,” she said. Guilfoyle and San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom are romantically linked. An engagement is imminent, she conceded.

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