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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Closing Arguments Begin in California Dog Mauling Trial

Aired March 18, 2002 - 13:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to a courtroom in Los Angeles, California right now. This is the closing arguments in what has come to be known as the dog mauling trial.

To bring you up to date on this, January of last year, Diane Whipple, 33 years old, climbing into her apartment in San Francisco, mauled by a dog that was held by the neighbors. Diane Whipple, 33 years old, dead that day. Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel now on trial there in Los Angeles. Originated in San Francisco, moved to L.A. because of publicity. To L.A. now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JIM HAMMER, PROSECUTOR: Janet Combs testified to you that she had told Mrs. Knoller straight to her face on the phone that these dogs -- this dog, I'm sorry, had killed sheep and a cat and that Hera had barked and jumped and lunged at people. And this is from the transcript: "I told the two of them together and stated emphatically that Hera should never have been taken off my property. She should have been shot." Is this a warning about the danger of these dogs?

Add to that Dr. Morton, and his letter. Is this not enough, ladies and gentlemen? The letter he had never written in his whole career as a veterinarian. Quote: "I would be professionally remiss if I did not mentioned the following so that you can be prepared. These dogs are huge. They have had no training or discipline of any sort. They were a problem to even get to, let alone vaccinate. To add to this, these animals would be a liability in any household, reminding me of the recent attack in Tehama County to a boy by large dogs. He lost his arm and disfigured his face. The historic romance of the warrior dog, the personal guard dog, the gaming dog may sound good but hardly fits in the life today."

Is that enough? Is it enough to tell someone, hey, dogs like yours could maul a boy. They haven't been trained. They are out of control. These are warrior dogs. Or do you have to have the boy mauled first? Because if that's the case, what good is a warning? Do you need a boy mauled first, according to them, before you know? Is that what the law requires?

Ladies and gentlemen, that was the evidence before they chose intentionally to take these two beasts into San Francisco. And what happened next in San Francisco, I'm going to very briefly review the evidence you heard with you, what happened next isn't a surprise. It fits perfectly with what they were told would happen before they brought them to San Francisco. It was perfectly foreseeable. And not just foreseeable, they didn't stop it. They liked it, in some way. They got off on it in some way, some power trip, some way to intimidate people.

And it goes right to the question I asked Miss Knoller, who did you care more about, all these people, or your dogs, your kids? Let's look at the evidence. This is the attack on David Mosher (ph) who was bitten in the behind in the lobby of his own building where it should be safe. He got off the elevator. As he was doing it, he got bit on his buttocks by the dog. He jumped back and exclaimed, your dog just bit me. Mr. Noel walked over -- isn't this a charming, brave Mr. Noel -- and said, interesting, and walked away.

HEMMER: Prosecutor Jim Hammer there presenting his closing arguments in the dog mauling case. We will keep an eye on this. We do anticipate, quite likely, jurors will be given that case today. Deliberations may start this afternoon there in Los Angeles.

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