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Name: People v. Knoller
Case #: S134543
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/31/2007

Second degree murder based on a theory of implied malice requires a defendant’s awareness of engaging in conduct that endangers the life of another. (Affirming People v. Phillips (1966) 64 Cal.2d 574.) In this case, Knoller took her large, vicious dog into the hallway of her apartment building where he attacked and killed a woman who also lived in the apartment building. Following Knoller’s conviction for second degree murder, the trial court granted her a new trial but the appellate court reversed. The Supreme Court found that the appellate court’s holding that implied malice can be based on a defendant’s awareness of the risk of causing serious bodily injury was incorrect. The Supreme Court also found the trial court erred because it incorrectly ruled that a defendant must be aware that her conduct had a high probability of causing death. Also, it was error for the court to consider the failure of the prosecution to charge Knoller’s husband, who owned the dog along with appellant, with murder in granting the retrial motion. [Note: case name title in Court of Appeal, People v. Noel, changed to People v. Knoller in the Supreme Court.]