Zeta-Jones, Douglas testify in stalker hearing. They say they took seriously the graphic death threats that suspect Dawnette Knight allegedly sent

By Gary Susman
Updated July 29, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Michael Douglas: Nick Ut/AP

For three hours on Wednesday, Catherine Zeta-Jones testified in a Los Angeles courtroom about the fear she felt over letters that included graphic death threats, allegedly sent by accused stalker Dawnette Knight. ”I have never had a death threat in my life and this will affect me for the rest of my life,” she said, according to Reuters. The testimony, in which the actress read from several of the letters, occurred during a preliminary hearing to see if there is enough evidence for a trial in the case, in which Knight is charged with 25 counts of threatening the Oscar winner via letters and phone calls in 2003 and 2004.

The letters said that the actress would be murdered in a way that would resemble the killings of Sharon Tate, Nicole Brown Simpson, or John F. Kennedy. In one letter, the writer threatened ”to slice her up like Meat on a bone and Feed her to the dogs.” ”I can’t even imagine how a sane human being could have these images locked in their brain,” Zeta-Jones said, according to the Associated Press.

Husband Michael Douglas testified that he felt similarly vulnerable and frightened. He said his wife had an anxiety attack in May after some threatening phone calls reached the Amsterdam hotel where she was staying during the shooting of ”Ocean’s Twelve.” ”She just felt that she was a marked person,” Douglas said. Knight was arrested in June and held on $1 million bail.

After her arrest, Knight, a 32-year-old aspiring child psychologist, wrote a letter to the couple asking for their forgiveness and saying she would never have done them any harm. On Wednesday, her attorney, Richard Herman, noted that none of the threatening letters were addressed to Zeta-Jones herself (many were sent to father-in-law Kirk Douglas, family friends, or TV networks). Knight had a ”girlish crush on Michael Douglas,” Herman told ”Entertainment Tonight.” ”Yeah, she sent some letters and she is a big fan of Michael Douglas,” Knight’s fiancé, Ronald Calvin, told ”ET.” ”It just got out of hand with her infatuation with a movie star.”