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Separate trials sought in fatal dog mauling

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SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys for a couple charged in a fatal dog mauling case are asking for separate trials.

Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel face charges of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a vicious dog that killed Diane Whipple last year. Knoller also is charged with second-degree murder.

Whipple was killed Jan. 26, 2001, by two massive presa canarios that chased her down and left her bleeding to death in the hallway of her luxurious Pacific Heights apartment building.

The judge said he may rule Tuesday on whether to grant Knoller and Noel, both lawyers, separate trials.

Trial is scheduled to begin next week in Los Angeles.

Noel says he was not present during the attack and that it was his wife who failed to muzzle or control the dogs that day. She also failed to call paramedics, he said.

But prosecutor Jim Hammer argued that Knoller and Noel "together actively encouraged the violent tendencies of these dogs."