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Press Association
Thu 17 Jun 2004
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4:41am (UK)
Zeta-Jones 'Stalker' Held in Custody

By Mark Sage, PA News, in New York

A woman has been remanded in custody accused of threatening to kill actress Catherine Zeta Jones, authorities said today.

Dawnette Knight was detained in California charged with stalking and threatening the Welsh actress and her family.

The 32-year-old unemployed woman was arrested on June 3 at her flat in Beverly Hills and charged with one count of stalking and 24 counts of making criminal threats, police said.

According to court documents Knight carried out the alleged crimes between January 2003 and May 2004.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on £600,000 bail.

Lieutenant Joe Impellizeri of the Sheriff’s major crimes bureau, said: “We felt she was a flight risk.”

According to the criminal complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Knight is charged with making threats against Zeta-Jones “with the intent that she be placed in reasonable fear for her safety and the safety of her immediate family”.

Knight is set to return to court June 29 for a preliminary hearing, said a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

If convicted, Knight could face probation to 19 years in prison.

Zeta-Jones’ staff told police early this year that the 34-year-old Oscar-winning star of Chicago was receiving threatening letters, Lt Impellizeri said.

He said sheriff’s officials were able to trace several letters and phone calls back to Knight, including one to Austria where Zeta-Jones was filming Ocean’s Twelve.

“The letters and phone calls became more violent and specific,” he said.

He added that the motive for the alleged crimes were not known.

“It could be that she was an obsessed fan, or a past employee or worked on a movie set, we don’t know,” he said.

Knight has claimed in a magazine article that she had an affair with the actress’ movie star husband Michael Douglas – a claim which his spokesman reportedly dismissed as “preposterous”.

A statement released by Zeta-Jones’ publicist, Cece Yorke, said: “Catherine Zeta-Jones is co-operating with law enforcement officials regarding this case, and she and her family are greatly relieved that the suspect is in custody.”

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