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Detective: Letters Contained Death Threats Against Catherine Zeta-Jones

Some Letters Were Sent To Kirk Douglas

POSTED: 6:53 pm PDT July 26, 2004
UPDATED: 7:08 pm PDT July 26, 2004

Death threats against Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones were made in letters sent to her father-in-law, Kirk Douglas, and others who knew her, a sheriff's detective testified Monday.

Called as the prosecution's first witness against alleged stalker Dawnette R. Knight, sheriff's Detective Teresa Garrett said the letters -- which were purportedly sent by others -- included one to Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, whose contents read "obituary style."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg is being asked to determine if there is enough evidence to require Knight to stand trial on a 26-count criminal complaint accusing her of stalking and making criminal threats against Zeta-Jones.

The hearing is set to continue Wednesday, with Zeta-Jones and her husband, actor Michael Douglas, expected to be called to the stand then.

In the meantime, Knight remains jailed on $1 million bail. She was arrested June 3 in connection with the allegations.

Outside court, defense attorney Richard P. Herman said his client had a "girlish crush on Michael Douglas," and sent him a note telling him she would show him "a good time."

However, he said he was "not convinced my client wrote all the letters."

"We haven't gotten the sum of the language in the letters, which no heterosexual woman would ever have written," Herman told reporters outside court. "So I'm not convinced that my client was the one behind the awful things that are in those letters."

Knight's fiance, Ronald Calvin, called her a "God-fearing woman" who is "extremely terrified by what's happening to her."

Knight "has every intention of pursuing her career as a child psychologist and loving wife to myself and, hopefully, the mother of my children ... All of this will be pillow talk for us one day," Calvin said.

The charges involve letters -- some of which were sent to Kirk and Ann Douglas.

The sheriff's detective testified that Anne Douglas turned the letters over to sheriff's investigators and found the missives "very upsetting."

Letters sent to others, including Zeta-Jones' agent and a hotel in Bermuda, also contained death threats against Zeta-Jones, the detective testified.

The letters were purportedly from others who knew Zeta-Jones, with nearly all of them being postmarked locally, according to the sheriff's detective. Authorities are expected to detail later this week how they linked Knight to the alleged crimes.

When Zeta-Jones was advised of the death threats as the letters grew "more and more threatening," the actress was "very upset" and "at a loss for words," Garrett said.

"She was very afraid for herself and her family," the detective said.

Investigators also learned about two death threats against Zeta-Jones that were phoned into a hotel in Bermuda, in which Michael Douglas had a financial interest, sheriff's Detective Rodney Wagner testified.

The first call on March 18 -- from a female caller with a possible Southern accent -- said to warn Douglas that his wife was going to be killed, and the second said in a muffled voice April 1 to let Douglas know that "we are going to kill his wife, kill that bitch," according to Wagner.

The calls were traced to pay telephones in the West Hollywood and Beverly Hills area, within four miles of where Knight lives, with a prepaid calling card used in each instance, Wagner said.

Knight's attorney told reporters that his client -- an aspiring child psychologist -- wrote Zeta-Jones and her father-in-law a letter of apology in care of Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta.

"My client absolutely has asked the forgiveness of the Douglas family, which they haven't given her," he said, noting that was why the hearing is underway. "Because, otherwise, she would be off at a residential facility, and this would all (be) behind us."

Knight's attorney said he was concerned about whether his client was being treated differently because the case involved a celebrity couple.

"I think that the D.A.'s office is beholden to Hollywood and I think that it's wrong," Herman told reporters, noting that he wanted his client to be placed in a residential facility on Catalina Island where she could receive counseling.

Sandi Gibbons of the District Attorney's Office disputed Herman's contention that Knight was being treated differently.

"We're not beholden to anyone," Gibbons said. "We felt that the evidence was there and we filed a case."

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