This story is from our network Source: AP

'Stalker' lawyer blasts Zeta-Jones

July 31, 2004

A JUDGE has ordered a psychological evaluation for a woman accused of stalking Catherine Zeta-Jones after the woman's defence lawyer claimed the actress had driven the defendant to attempt suicide.

"Catherine Zeta-Jones has driven Dawnette Knight to attempt suicide and the real blood is on her hands," lawyer Richard Herman told reporters at the downtown criminal courts building in Los Angeles today.

He spoke out after Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg suspended the preliminary hearing for Knight, 32, for an evaluation of whether she is competent to assist in her own defence.

Knight, who wrote numerous letters threatening Zeta-Jones, is accused of one felony count of stalking and 24 felony counts of making criminal threats.

She is being held on $US1 million ($1.44 million) bail.

Zeta-Jones and her husband Michael Douglas have already testified that the actress received threatening letters from Knight, including one which read: "We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs."

Knight last month apologised for the letters, claiming she had been infatuated with Douglas.

The psychological evaluation ordered by the court today follows what Knight's lawyer said was his client's attempted suicide by an overdose of barbiturates.

"This case has turned into Hollywood against Dawnette Knight and it's not a fair fight," he told reporters outside court.

He said his client had asked for forgiveness, but had instead been met with "a campaign of vilification in the media which is both mean-spirited and vicious".

After accusing Zeta-Jones of driving his client to attempt suicide, the lawyer said, "Nothing further", and walked away.

However prosecutor Debra Archuleta said the lawyer's statements were inappropriate.

"We are shocked and outraged that the victim in this case, Catherine Zeta-Jones, is being portrayed in this manner," she said.

A Zeta-Jones publicist said the actress had no comment.

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