Pretrial and trial

  • The investigation began on the night of the attack, January 26, 2001.
  • The dangerous dog hearing was on February 13, 2001, and the decision was announced February 22, 2001.
  • The evidence hearing was on March 7, 2001.
  • The presentation to a grand jury in San Francisco began March 8, 2001. It rendered indictments against Knoller and Noel on March 27, 2001. 
  • Sharon Smith filed a wrongful death case against the dogs' owners on March 12, 2001.
  • Noel and Knoller, on behalf of themselves and Schneider, requested a writ from the Court of Appeal on March 22, 2001, directing the trial court to exclude evidence seized from the attorneys' apartment and Schneider's cell. The writ was denied.
  • On March 28, 2001, Knoller and Noel made their initial court appearance on the criminal charges pursuant to the indictments. Bail was set at $2 Million for Knoller and $1 Million for Noel.
  • Noel and Knoller have repeatedly postponed their arraignment (i.e., the court proceeding in which they will be formally charged with the crimes, and they will enter pleas). 
  • On May 9, 2001, Noel and Knoller filed a demurrer to the criminal indictment. A "demurrer" is a challenge to the sufficiency of a legal pleading -- in other words, it is the equivalent of saying that the indictment itself is not legal.
  • On May 29, 2001, the demurrer was overruled, allowing the case to proceed with the original charges of second degree murder (against Knoller), and manslaughter and keeping a mischevious animal (against both Knoller and Noel). The defendants pleaded not guilty to those charges. The judge assigned the case to Judge James Warren for the purpose of trial. 
  • In June 2001, the prisoners who allegedly owned the two Presa Canarios filed a motion in the civil case, asking to be made defendants. It was denied.
  • On July 27, 2001, Judge A. James Robertson II denied motions by Noel and Knoller to dismiss Sharon's Smith's wrongful death case against them. There is no legal precedent for the judge's ruling. Noel and Knoller most likely shall appeal, and the Court of Appeals most likely will overturn the lower court's decision.
  • Also on July 27, 2001, Judge James Warren ruled that Hera should be destroyed. However, destruction was delayed until after a decision as to whether the city's dangerous dog laws are proper. On August 3, 2001, Noel and Knoller, through attorney David Blatte, filed a petition for mandamus directed to the animal control hearing division of the San Francisco Police Department. "Mandamus" is a court order directed to a specific governmental agency, in this case the canine court in San Francisco that ordered Hera to be put down. The petition asked the Court to order the Police Department to conduct a new hearing to determine whether Hera should be euthanized. It was denied on August 21, 2001, by Judge A. James Robertson. Effectively, the judge ruled that Hera must be destroyed. This decision was appealed to the California Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court, both of which let stand Judge Robertson's decision. The Supreme Court ruling was on January 16, 2002.
  • On August 13, 2001, Noel and Knoller, through their attorneys, filed a motion asking for a change of venue -- a different location for their criminal trial. A political science professor at California State University testified (by written declaration) on their behalf, saying that media coverage of this case presented "one of the highest levels of prejudice I have ever seen." For that reason and others, the defendants asserted that they will never receive a fair trial in San Francisco. The motion was granted, and Los Angeles was selected as the place for the trial.
  • On August 21, 2001, Knoller removed Jan Lecklikner and replaced her with Nedra Ruiz, who therefore will be Knoller's defense attorney in the criminal case.
  • On the same day, Ruiz filed a motion to permit Knoller to go free prior to trial. It was denied.
  • The trial of Noel and Knoller is sceduled to begin in January 2002. It is unlikely, however, that it will start on or even near that date. 
  • On January 4, 2002, Noel and Knoller filed motions to have separate trials. The motions were denied.
  • Also on January 4, 2002, Noel and Knoller filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of their son, Schneider, charging prison officials with giving him inadequate medical attention. The suit claims that surgical packing was left in his lower right leg during surgery in 1986 and was not removed until last year.
  • The criminal trial started in February 2002 with jury selection, followed by motions to exclude evidence, and then the opening statements to the jury, which were on February 19, 2002. On that day, the first prosecution witnesses began their testimony. The names of the witnesses and a brief summary of their testimony is found above. 
  • The prosecution rested its case on 3/4/02. The defense case began on 3/5/02 and ended on 3/14/02.
  • On March 21, 2002, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all charges, for both defendants.
  • Noel and Knoller filed motions for a new trial. Knoller's motion was granted on June 17, 2002.
  • On June 17, 2002, Noel was sentenced to four years in state prison. Knoller was not sentenced.
  • On July 15, 2002, Knoller was sentenced to four years in state prison.