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Posted 8/10/2004 1:40 PM
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Zeta-Jones stalker to get psychiatric evaluation
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A psychiatrist was appointed Tuesday to examine a woman accused of stalking Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Superior Court Judge John Wiley ordered that Dawnette Knight, 32, be examined by Dr. Kal Sharma by Sept. 15.

The psychiatrist will determine whether Knight is competent to stand trial and can work with her attorney. The examination will be conducted in jail, where Knight is being held on $1 million bail.

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

A hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to put Knight on trial was suspended last month when defense attorney Richard Herman requested the psychiatric exam after an incident in which he suspected his client attempted suicide.

Knight was too drowsy for a court session in July and told her attorney she had taken sleeping pills, Herman said, but he suspected she tried to overdose on barbiturates.

Outside court on Tuesday, Herman repeated allegations that Zeta-Jones had driven his client to attempt suicide by orchestrating a media campaign against Knight.

"It's being waged by Zeta-Jones with her knowledge and it's abusive," Herman said. "... It's an abuse of her position and her power."

Herman said his client was never a threat and never should have been arrested. Instead, he said, authorities should have simply profiled and taken note of her.

"This was botched security. This was a botched investigation," he said.

The defense attorney said he believed his client would be found competent to stand trial and that she should receive probation and counseling rather than any prison time.

"I don't think it's mental illness. It may be obsession," Herman said.

"There is no serious criminal record. ... There is no history of her ever harming a human being," he said.

Zeta-Jones and husband Michael Douglas testified about the letters at the preliminary hearing last month.

"We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs," said one letter read in court by the actress.

Earlier this summer, Knight apologized for writing the letters and claimed she had been infatuated with Douglas.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.