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Zeta-Jones' suspect evaluated
Date: 17/08/04

A psychiatrist has declared a woman accused of stalking and threatening the life of Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones is mentally competent to stand trial, a lawyer says.

A judge last month suspended criminal proceedings against Dawnette Knight pending a psychiatric examination to determine whether she was fit to answer the charges after she allegedly tried to commit suicide in custody.

Knight's defence lawyer Richard Herman has told a court that mental health expert Kal Sharma had told him he felt the suspect, who had been obsessed with Zeta-Jones's husband Michael Douglas, was mentally competent.

While Sharma's written report was still pending, Knight appeared to be able to assist her own defence, Herman says.

The 33-year-old Knight, who was not in court for the hearing, is now due back at the Mental Health Courthouse on September 8, a week earlier than previously scheduled.

On September 9, an interrupted hearing to determine if the young woman must stand trial for allegedly making death threats against British-born Zeta-Jones will resume.

Knight faces a stalking charge and 24 counts of making criminal threats against the Oscar-winning actress who won her best supporting actress statuette for the 2002 movie "Chicago".

Knight, who was arrested in June, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she directed threatening phone calls and letters towards the actress.

Zeta-Jones told the court last month that she was menaced with being sliced up like "meat on a bone" and fed to dogs and being slain like US president John F. Kennedy or Manson Family victim Sharon Tate.

The threats "affected me and ... will affect me for the rest of my life," the actress had told the court. "I felt like a ticking time bomb."

Zeta-Jones' husband, "Fatal Attraction" star Douglas also testified last month that he was "shocked, scared and stunned" after learning that death threats had been made against his wife.

Knight, who remains jailed in lieu of one million dollars bail, had earlier sent Zeta-Jones a letter apologising for the "distress" and asking for forgiveness.

Copyright AAP 2004

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