The trial of a San Francisco couple charged in connection with the mauling death of a neighbor by a dog they were caring for may be delayed as the two defendants seek to distance themselves from one another.
A hearing will be held next Monday on motions filed last Thursday requesting separate trials for Marjorie Knoeller and her husband, Robert Noel. Attorneys for both defendants said that they wanted their clients to avoid being found guilty by association.
The trial was scheduled to begin the following week in Los Angeles, where it was moved to avoid the media publicity the case has generated in the Bay Area.
Attorney Bruce Hotchkiss -- who represents Noel -- maintains that his client was not present last Jan. 26 when neighbor Diane Whipple was fatally attacked in the hallway of their Pacific Heights apartment building. He said in his motion that it would be "impossible for a jury, no matter how well instructed, to disregard the testimony about Ms. Knoeller's actions on the day in question, and focus solely on Mr. Noel's culpability."
Knoeller's representatives said they were concerned that Noel's allegedly callous attitude toward neighbors' fears about the dog would hurt her case.
Knoeller faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly failing to control the two large Presa Canario dogs that bolted from their apartment and went after Whipple as she attempted to get into her apartment. Knoeller was able to get a hold of one of the dogs. However, the other dog, a 120-pounder named "Bane," pounced on the victim and viciously and bit and mauled her to death.
Noel -- who faces charges of manslaughter and keeping a vicious animal -- has contended that he kept a muzzle on Bane but that his wife did not have the device on the dog when the fatal attack occurred.
-- What do you think should happen in this case, and why?
SEND IN THE CLONES
Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, has developed arthritis and scientists are worried it could be the result of a genetic defect possibly caused by the cloning process itself.
Professor Ian Wilmut, who headed the Scottish-based team that created Dolly in 1996, said the animal has arthritis in her left hind leg at the hip and the knee -- an unusual ailment for a sheep that young. He told journalists that he and other scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh were concerned Dolly may be a victim of premature aging and that the condition could have been triggered by a genetic defect while she was being cloned.
Wilmut said the scientists were "very disappointed, and we will have to keep a careful eye on her. We will be monitoring her condition to see how it develops. ... In every other way, she is perfectly healthy, and she has given birth to six healthy lambs."
The professor later told the BBC that scientists feared the problems with Dolly could impact on further research into cloning, and he called for a research program to determine what impact the process has on animal health.
The Dolly development was quickly seized upon by animal welfare groups, some of which called for an immediate cessation of cloning experiments.
Joyce D'Silva, director of Compassion in World Farming, urged an end to animal cloning and told BBC radio that "I think of the hundreds and hundreds of other cloned lambs who have been born and have malformed hearts, lungs or kidneys."
"They have struggled to survive for a few days and then had their lungs filled with fluid and gasped their way to death or had to be put out of their misery by their creators," she said. "That is the real story of cloning."
-- What do you think?
POINT AND CLICK YOUR WAY TO HEALTH
Two of the most common health complaints around the New Year revolve around weight gain and getting the flu. With tables draped with desserts and appetizers, it's no surprise that many people worry about weight gain during the holiday season.
What is surprising, however, is how many people are turning to the Internet to get comprehensive health information. According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project, 52 million American adults, or 55 percent of those with Internet access, have used the web to get health or medical information. And, of those, 48 percent say the advice they found on the web has improved the way they take care of themselves. 55 percent say access to the Internet has improved the way they get medical and health information.
-- Have you ever gone online to get health information?