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Att'y blames Zeta-Jones
in suspect OD

LOS ANGELES - The lawyer for an alleged stalker who terrorized Catherine Zeta-Jones for more than a year blamed the actress yesterday for his client's bid to kill herself in a jailhouse overdose.

"What's happened is that Catherine Zeta-Jones has driven Dawnette Knight to attempt suicide - and the real blood is on her hands," defense attorney Richard Herman declared.

Knight popped unprescribed pills Wednesday night after a shaken Zeta-Jones, 35, testified about suffering crippling panic attacks during the year of terror when the stalker tracked her around the world and sent ultraviolent death threats by letter and phone.

The letters threatened to "slice her up like meat on a bone" or "slash her throat like Nicole Simpson" and one included a mock obituary that called the Welsh-born actress a "whore gold digger."

Herman leveled his bizarre blame-the-victim diatribe in a shocking press conference after a judge granted his request to delay court proceedings until Aug. 16 so Knight could undergo psychiatric evaluation.

"What's happened is that this case has turned into Hollywood vs. Dawnette Knight. What we've seen instead of forgiveness is a campaign of vilification in the media that is both meanspirited and vicious," Herman said.

Herman, saying the campaign had driven Knight, 32, to "an overdose of barbiturates," had only a day earlier played down the incident, saying Knight only took "two sleeping pills" because "she wanted a good night's sleep."

Knight and Herman have admitted she penned at least some of the poison letters because she was "infatuated" with Michael Douglas, 59, the actress' husband.

Prosecutors said they were "shocked and outraged" by Herman's attack on Zeta-Jones, which they called "inappropriate."

Originally published on July 31, 2004

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