Zeta-Jones stalking suspect ODs in jail. Hearing is postponed after sleeping pills put Dawnette Knight out of commission

By Gary Susman
Updated July 30, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

A ”devastated” Dawnette Knight, who spent Wednesday in a Los Angeles courtroom listening to Catherine Zeta-Jones read 19 of the threatening and graphic letters Knight is accused of sending her, overdosed on sleeping pills in her jail cell on Wednesday night and was taken to a hospital on Thursday when guards were unable to rouse her, Reuters reports. Her absence forced a one-day postponement of Thursday’s hearing, which is to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Knight on two dozen felony counts of making criminal threats and stalking.

Knight, an aspiring child psychologist who has said she had an infatuation with Michael Douglas, listened for hours on Wednesday as Douglas and Zeta-Jones testified to the fear and anxiety they felt over the letters and phone calls that investigators have attributed to Knight. Defense attorney Richard Herman described Knight to Reuters on Thursday as ”just devastated. She is very, very sorry. She had no idea [the letters] would cause so much distress.” He said Knight’s overdose was an accident, not a suicide attempt. ”She just wanted a good night’s sleep and she took two sleeping pills and got a little too good a night’s sleep.” Asked how she came by the pills, which were not prescribed to her, he said, ”Anybody can get anything in jail,” according to the New York Daily News.

The letters, which said Zeta-Jones would be killed in a manner echoing the murders of Sharon Tate, Nicole Brown Simpson, or John F. Kennedy, were sent not to the actress herself but to father-in-law Kirk Douglas, other relatives and friends, and TV stations. They led to Knight’s arrest in June; she has been held on $1 million bail ever since. From jail, she wrote a letter of apology to the couple, asking for forgiveness and saying she never intended to harm anyone. On Thursday, Knight told reporters, ”This is probably the only ‘stalker’ case ever where the defendant has no history of mental problems. She is perfectly normal. This is an aberrant thing that happened to a normal woman.”