Prosecutors Decide Not to Bring Killer Dog's Skull to Court

Prosecutors in the dog-mauling trial of a San Francisco couple said Thursday they will not bring the skull of one of the animals into court after the judge suggested it would be "ghoulish."

The jury was sent out of the courtroom while the issue was argued. But before Judge James Warren could make a ruling, prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom decided "on further consideration, we will not be introducing the skull of Bane."

Marjorie Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, are on trial in the death of Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach who was killed by the couple's dogs, Bane and Hera, in the hallway of their apartment building just over a year ago.

Knoller, 46, who was present during the attack, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous animal that killed a human being. Noel, 60, faces the latter two charges.

The judge ruled that prosecutors could enter in evidence two posters showing the animals' bared teeth and a picture of Bane — taken after the dog was put to death — to illustrate its size.

The defense had argued the photos were too inflammatory.

"The jury understands that this lady was bitten, and the jury understands that it was a big dog with teeth," said defense attorney Nedra Ruiz.

When testimony resumed Thursday, forensic dental expert Greg Mar showed jurors plaster casts he made of the dogs' teeth. Mar said the impressions of Bane's teeth matched the puncture wounds on Whipple's neck.

"You can see from Bane's teeth it's a pretty good match," he testified.

Mar said he could not match the other wounds.

"It's possible either dog could have inflicted the other wounds," he said.