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Accused Zeta-Jones Stalker Is Mentally Competent
Wed Sep 8, 2004 05:08 PM ET
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The woman accused of making death threats against actress Catherine Zeta-Jones on Wednesday was declared mentally competent to continue criminal proceedings.

A hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to send Dawnette Knight, 33, to trial on stalking charges was postponed in July after Knight took a barbiturate overdose in jail.

The judge ruled that Knight should be assessed by a psychiatrist, who concluded that she understood the charges against her and could assist in her own defense.

Knight faces 24 counts of stalking Zeta-Jones through threatening phone calls and letters over an 18 month period. She overdosed on powerful sleeping tablets the night after Zeta-Jones testified in court and read out portions of the letters.

Knight's lawyer, Richard Herman, who has described Knight as having a crush on Zeta-Jones' husband Michael Douglas, said on Wednesday his client had felt under pressure after the actress's emotional court appearance.

"She basically needed a break so that she could compose herself. ... At the time when we called the break, she was having difficulty coping with the pressures of the hearing," Herman told reporters.

The preliminary hearing is expected to resume on Thursday.

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