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Zeta-Jones Stalker Ruled Competent
Last Update: 9/9/2004 2:25:17 PM

Dawnette Knight, the woman accused of stalking actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, was declared mentally competent Wednesday to continue criminal proceedings.

Things came to a halt in July when Knight overdosed on barbiturates while in jail. The court ordered the 33-year-old to be checked out by a psychiatrist, who concluded that Knight understood the charges against her and could assist in her own defense.

The defendant faces 24 counts of stalking Zeta-Jones via threatening phone calls and letters over an 18 month period. Her lawyer, Richard Herman, said Wednesday that his client’s pill popping was the result of an emotional day in court the day before, during which Zeta-Jones testified and read out portions of Knight’s letters.

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

The preliminary hearing is expected to resume Thursday.

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