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Zeta-Jones "Stalker" Trial a Go

by Charlie Amter
Sep 15, 2004, 5:30 PM PT

Catherine Zeta-Jones' alleged stalker must stand trial on 25 criminal counts against her, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg ruled that Dawnette Knight, the woman accused of harassing Zeta-Jones, will face criminal charges once a date is set for her trial.

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Although a date has not yet been set, the fact the trial is even happening is surely a relief for Zeta-Jones and her husband, Michael Douglas, after a circus-like evidentiary hearing to determine if there was indeed enough evidence to warrant a trial against Knight.

During the bizarre and lengthy preliminary hearing, Knight and her attorney tried in vain to sway Schnegg towards their side of the story. Knight's lawyer, Richard Herman, has maintained that his client was no threat to Zeta-Jones.

However, prosecutors say Knight's obsession with Douglas motivated her multiple death threats against the 35-year-old actress. Herman has said in the past that his client simply had a "girlish crush" on Douglas, and that she was a "normal" girl.

But Schnegg wasn't convinced Wednesday, especially after hearing chilling testimony offered over the last two weeks by police officers on the case since Knight's arrest June 3 in Beverly Hills.

Just last week, Schnegg and the court heard how Knight became a suspect after investigators learned that telephone death threats made to the Chicago Oscar winner came from the 33-year-old's Beverly Hills home.

Detective Rodney Wagner testified Sept. 10 that phone bills proved several calls were made to Zeta-Jones from Knight's residence, including a death threat to the actress at her hotel while she was on location in Europe. Police say the calls were made on May 18 and 19.

According to Wagner, the caller told a hotel staffer, "We know she is in the hotel. We are going to kill her."

The Welsh stunner herself testified July 28 during the prelim, telling the court in a shaky voice, "This has affected me, and it will affect me the rest of my life."

Between Zeta-Jones' testimony and that of the police, Judge Schnegg had heard more than enough to order a criminal trial Wednesday.

Neither Knight, nor her attorney has commented on her impending trial as of yet.

A court-appointed psychiatrist examined the defendant in August after her suicide attempt and found that she was indeed sane enough to stand trial. A second judge concurred with that diagnosis last week.

Knight has pleaded not guilty and remains incarcerated in a Los Angeles jail with bail set at $1 million. If convicted on all charges, she could spend up to ten years in prison.

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