LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Before both sides rested their cases over the dog-mauling of a San Francisco woman, a dog behavior expert challenged a claim by defendant Marjorie Knoller that she threw herself on her neighbor in a desperate attempt to save her from the fatal attack.
Randall Lockwood testified Thursday that Knoller was not as close as she has claimed to the attack on lacrosse coach Diane Whipple by a presa canario dog.
``She may have been nearby but she was not in very close proximity,'' said Lockwood, a research official with the U.S. Humane Society.
Lockwood said that after listening to Knoller's testimony and analyzing evidence, he would have expected her to receive more severe bites than she did from the dog, named Bane.
Knoller's injuries ``suggest she was at some distance and Bane was giving her warning bites to back off and let him do what he felt was his job. ... He essentially was telling her to leave him alone.''
On cross-examination, Lockwood was asked whether Knoller was trying to prevent the attack.
``She was present,'' Lockwood said tersely.
The final piece of evidence introduced by prosecutors in the case was a letter written by Knoller's husband, Robert Noel, to a state prison inmate the couple had adopted. It stressed their devotion to the dogs.
``There is no way to ease into this. Bane is dead, as is our neighbor,'' the letter began.
In it, Noel promised to fight to keep another dog, Hera, alive.
``Neighbors be damned,'' he wrote. ``If they don't like living in the building with her, they can move,'' he wrote.
The trial was adjourned until Monday when closing arguments are scheduled. The case is expected to go to the jury on Tuesday.
Knoller, 46, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. Her 60-year-old husband faces the latter two charges. Their trial was moved to Los Angeles because of extensive pretrial publicity.
Whipple, 33, was attacked in the hallway of her building as she was carrying groceries into her apartment on Jan. 26, 2001.
Lockwood said he believed Knoller's testimony that she tried to pull Bane away, but he also suggested that some of her injuries were more likely produced by the leash in her hand.
Lockwood said he believed something caused the dog to become aggressive toward Whipple, but he did not know what that was.
``What is unique in this situation is in the more than 300 dog attacks I've seen we have never seen a healthy adult young woman killed when the owner is present,'' Lockwood said. ``Usually, the presence of the owner is sufficient to stop the attack.''
Bane was destroyed after the mauling. Hera was put down this year after a legal battle by the couple to save her life.