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Murder, manslaughter charges issued in California dog attack

Hera is one of two dogs involved in the attack last January on Diane Whipple  

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- A San Francisco couple has been charged with murder and manslaughter from the January 26 fatal mauling of a neighbor by two dogs they were caring for.

Marjorie Knoller was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and keeping a mischievous animal and Robert Noel was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous animal.

Knoller's bail is set at $2 million and Noel's at $1 million.

The couple was being held by the California Highway Patrol in Corning on unrelated charges of reckless driving, an official from the district attorney's office said.

CNN's Rusty Dornin explains the background of the San Francisco dog attack case

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Chief investigator Dan Addario said Knoller and Noel were apprehended by the state highway patrol near Fairfield, California, about 50 miles from San Francisco. Knoller and Noel were picked up about three hours after leaving the courthouse, where a grand jury was considering whether to charge them in the attack.

They were being held in Tehama County, Addario said.

The CHP and the San Francisco Police Department would not comment.

The charges against the couple stem from the death of Diane Whipple, 33, who was killed when the dogs, a pair of mastiff-Canary Island dog mix, each weighing more than 100 pounds, attacked her in the hallway outside her apartment.

Noel and Knoller, both of whom are attorneys, said they were caring for the dogs on behalf of a Pelican Bay Prison inmate, who allegedly ran an illegal attack-dog ring for drug dealers.

The grand jury heard testimony from Knoller Tuesday. Noel finished his testimony Friday.

Hera, the female dog, was ordered to receive a lethal injection by the San Francisco Animal Control Department.

Noel wrote to prosecutors suggesting the dogs might have attacked Whipple because of her perfume or if she was a steroid user  

"Hera is vicious and dangerous" and poses a significant risk to the community, said Sgt. Bill Herndon.

It's not known if she was euthanized, since some officials believed she may be needed as evidence in the case.

Bane, the male dog, was put to death soon after the attack.

Noel wrote a letter to prosecutors earlier, suggesting that the attack may have been triggered because Whipple could have been wearing a pheromone-based perfume or may have been a steroid user.

Bite pattern of second dog in fatal attack to be checked
March 9, 2001
Owner gives account of fatal dog attack
February 2, 2001

San Francisco Police Department
Pelican Bay State Prison

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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