“Implied malice” should be the standard for deciding whether Marjorie Knoller of San Francisco is guilty of murder in the mauling death of her neighbor by her two Presa Canario dogs mauled her neighbor Diane Whipple to death, says a California Supreme Court ruling reported by The Recorder. A trial judge said Knoller wasn’t guilty because she wasn’t aware that taking her dogs out carried a “high probability” of death. An appeals court said she had to know she risked causing serious bodily injury. The Supreme Court said the appellate court “set the bar too low” and “the trial court set the bar too high.” Said the high court: “Implied malice requires a defendant’s awareness of engaging in conduct that endangers the life of another — no more, and no less.”
Kenneth Phillips, described by the newspaper as a Beverly Hills dog bite attorney, the ruling makes prosecuting dog mauling cases more difficult. “A dog owner is never going to be aware of the risk of death,” he said. If Knoller’s conviction is reinstated, she could go back to prison to serve a 15-year sentence. She has credit for four years of time served.