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Citing frustration with his inability to muzzle his prospective client and a lack of funds, criminal defense attorney George Walker said Wednesday he will withdraw as putative counsel to one of the two San Francisco attorneys charged in the dog mauling death of Diane Whipple. Although the veteran attorney has not been formally retained, Walker has spoken publicly for Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel since a San Francisco grand jury indicted them on March 27. Walker said he was dismayed with Knoller and Noel’s lack of money to pay for the necessary investigation it will take to mount a successful defense. He said the attorneys could “cover my fee,” but nothing would be left to do the things necessary to support his defense work. He estimated the defense costs to be more than $50,000. “We’ve got an incredible state prosecution, and the costs of this case are going to be humongous,” Walker said. “I think I may be getting back in the case later, but I’m not going to try this case when I don’t have the [financial] support. I think I can defend this case.” He also expressed exasperation with Knoller, who earlier this week said in a television interview that the couple may want to sell their story to raise money for their bail and defense. “If I can’t handle her and I can’t control her, I’m going to get out,” Walker said. “It’s horrible.” Knoller is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and failure to control a vicious animal. Noel is charged with manslaughter and failure to control a vicious animal. Bane and Hera, two Presa Canario dogs under their care, attacked Whipple in the corridor of their Pacific Avenue apartment building on Jan. 26. Walker visited with Knoller and Noel in city prison on Wednesday for more than an hour. He told them of his frustration and intent to withdraw. “It’s like being sandbagged,” he said. “They’re bright people. They understand the law and the significance of everything they say.” Walker said he informed Master Criminal Calendar Judge Philip Moscone of his intent to withdraw. Randall Martin, the chief attorney in the public defender’s office, said Knoller would be told Thursday that she will be represented by one of his deputies, but he declined to say who it would be. Moscone said he would probably appoint a lawyer from the conflicts panel to represent Noel when the couple comes before him for arraignment today. A private attorney is appointed from the panel when there are co-defendants who could have conflicting defenses. Told that it was his turn on the panel today, defense attorney Bruce Hotchkiss swallowed hard and said, “Oh, boy.” Walker first met Noel about nine years ago, when each had an office in a Battery Street building in San Francisco. The couple approached him after they became suspects in Whipple’s death and asked him to form a defense team and serve as lead attorney. He agreed and has been looking to find a co-counsel. Walker said Noel’s friend, Wallace Olney, a partner of Houston’s famed criminal defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, had decided to join the team, but also may have second thoughts given the lack of cash. Walker said Olney and Noel met when the two worked for the U.S. Attorney’s office several years ago. When Walker first agreed to lead the two attorneys’ defense team, he set down certain conditions. One of those was that he could control his clients and they would abide by his advice. He told them to keep their mouths shut. “I can guarantee you will not hear from them for a long period of time, until they take the stand,” Walker said two weeks ago. Another was that they would not second-guess his trial strategy. Knoller told a television reporter that selling the couple’s story might raise money for them to bail out of jail. She’s held on $2 million bond; he’s held on $1 million. But law enforcement authorities and Michael Cardoza, the attorney who represents Whipple’s domestic partner, Sharon Smith, in a civil action against Noel and Knoller, may move to block proceeds from the sale of publication rights by the attorneys. Assistant District Attorney James Hammer has asked the state attorney general’s office to consider filing a motion for an injunction that would ban spending of any money realized from the sale of rights until after the couple’s trial. It would be held in trust by the state. Cardoza said he also is considering asking the AG’s office to seek an injunction under California Civil Code Section 2225. “If we do it, we’ll do it as a cooperative endeavor,” he said, but added there has to be more proof that a book or television deal is in the offing before bringing the matter before a judge. “We’ll need a lot more proof than just a television reporter,” Cardoza said. “I’m not going to waste the court’s time. I’m not one to be filing a motion just to be doing it.” He said the kind of proof a court might accept would be verifiable information that Noel and Knoller are actually “negotiating or on the cusp of a deal” with a publisher or other media outlet. “You just can’t be getting an injunction to be getting an injunction,” he said.

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