Knoller's murder conviction
Richard W. Whitrock
When Marjorie Knoller was convicted of
murder for the mauling death of Diane Whipple, most Americans knew very
little about the case. Since
the conviction, however, that has changed
Despite the fact that Knoller's lawyers
were grossly incompetent and did little to aid in her defense (some even
say they hindered it), many
people were surprised at the guilty verdict.
I, for one, am most certainly surprised at it, and the entire sham of a
trial, for that matter.
After researching the case, verdict and
trial itself, it is evident to me that there are serious problems with
both the U.S. legal system and the
moral fiber of many Americans. All around,
the entire situation makes me sick.
Before going any farther, there are a few
things I wish to get out in the open. I do not think Knoller should get
off scot-free. She is at least partially
responsible for the actions of animals
under her care. Also, her blatant disregard for the human life that was
taken by her pets is sickening and
should in some way be punished.
That said, I believe wholeheartedly that
a guilty verdict for murder is wrong in this case. As the prosecution pointed
out, many people had warned
Knoller that her Presa Canario dogs were
dangerous. In fact, she had ignored these opinions from more than 30 people,
which was most
certainly irresponsible of her.
However, how is it criminal not to follow
advice? I once told Bill Gates that he should give me $3 million — is it
criminal of him not to do so?
Presa Canarios, incidentally, are bred
to guard cattle and experts say that, if properly trained, the dogs are
Many breeds of dogs are dangerous and aggressive.
Rottweilers, Dobermans, German shepherds and countless other breeds are
protective by nature, and as anyone who
has ever owned one of these breeds can tell you, it is a very common thing
to be told that these animals
can be dangerous.
Many dogs just have a reputation based
on their size, regardless of temperament, and therefore the owners are
"warned" about how
"dangerous" their dogs are at first sight.
Does this mean that the owners are required
by law to destroy their dogs based on the biased opinions of people who
speak more on the
reputation of an animal than on its individual
In Knoller's case, the person who raised
the dogs warned her the female was dangerous. She had, however, said the
male was perfectly fine
and that she even considered him a "clown."
Obviously, she was wrong — so much for the advice of others.
In all truthfulness, I have no problem
with the manslaughter charge, or even the having-a-mischievous-dog-that-killed-
I could theoretically even agree with the
murder charge. I wasn't there and I wasn't on the jury, so I can't really
say what she was or was not guilty
My biggest problem, however, is that she
was charged with all three of these crimes, and they all allege the same
thing. In this country, we have
a double-jeopardy law that prevents people
from being tried for the same crime twice. It is in the spirit of this
law that I condemn the practice of
charging someone with three different
versions of one crime.
The tactic is that if someone is charged
with enough crimes over one incident, the chances of a conviction go up
(not to mention the fact that it
makes a plea bargain easier, all of it
geared towards forcing a guilty verdict or plea).
This is all great and wonderful for the
guilty and for improving conviction rates, but the simple fact of the matter
is that guilt should be proven, not
I believe that charging a person with three
different versions of one crime for the same incident is wrong, especially
when the only real difference
in the charges is their severity.
Whitrock, a freshman university
studies student, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.