SAN FRANCISCO — The judge in the dog mauling murder case has released a letter one of the defendants wrote to his inmate client and adopted son in which he calls the dog’s victim a “little mousy blonde.”
The seven-page, typewritten letter from Robert Noel to Pelican Bay State Prison inmate Paul “Cornfed” Schneider is dated just two weeks before Diane Whipple was mauled to death by two large dogs owned by Noel and his wife, Marjorie Knoller.
In it, Noel gives Schneider a report of the dogs’ behavior, including details about a run-in with Whipple, whom he calls a “timorous little mousy blonde.”
Noel and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, face involuntary manslaughter charges in last year’s death of their 33-year-old neighbor. Knoller, who was walking the dogs when Whipple was attacked, also faces a second-degree murder charge.
Superior Court Judge James Warren, who unsealed the letter, has rejected defense requests to exclude any testimony about Schneider and his relationship to the couple, who are his adoptive parents, ruling it could be relevant to the trial.
Schneider and fellow inmate Dale Bretches were accused of running a dog breeding ring from prison. The dogs Knoller was walking when Whipple was attacked were theirs, but allegedly weren’t fit for fighting.
In the letter, marked “confidential legal mail,” Noel also tells Schneider about the couple’s decision to legally adopt him, calling him Knoller’s second husband.
“It is the one form of legal action which can join the three of us in a binding family unit,” Noel wrote. “If it were permitted to be accomplished through a second marriage that would have been the medium, but we have become a family and Marjorie and I are prepared to go as far as possible to formalize that arrangement.”
Prosecutor Jim Hammer has argued that Knoller, Noel and Schneider created an “elaborate fantasy world” that included the dogs.
“This case began and ended with their relationship with Mr. Schneider,” Hammer said last week in a San Francisco courtroom. “It is astonishing the degree to which they discussed the activities of these dogs.”
Hammer says Knoller, Noel and Schneider “worked actively together and enjoyed creating these monster dogs.”
Schneider, 39, is serving a life sentence for attempted murder.