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Trial of Zeta's alleged stalker to be televised

Oct 20 2004

Robin Turner, Western Mail


THE trial of Catherine Zeta-Jones's alleged stalker is set to become as large as the OJ Simpson case after the judge ruled that it could be televised.

Dawnette Knight's trial will be the first celebrity stalking trial of its kind to be shown on live TV.

Los Angeles superior court judge David Mintz decided preliminary hearings before the November 15 trial could be televised. He said witnesses would not be televised as some include undercover detectives.

But the judge ruled against lawyers for Catherine Zeta-Jones and her husband Michael Douglas, who submitted a 104-page argument why the cameras should be barred.

Judge Mintz is yet to make a ruling on whether live pictures can be transmitted from the trial itself.

A spokesman for US television network ABC said if the judge agreed to cameras being in court it could be as big as the OJ Simpson trial. "Everyone wants a piece of this one, and we are waiting on a judgment," he said.

Knight is said to have been obsessed with Michael Douglas.

Pre-trial hearings read like something from a horror script.

The Swansea-born actress spoke of satanic threats made against her which put her under severe psychological stress.

She was said to have been bombarded with jealous hate mail and threatening telephone calls.

Knight is alleged to have also sent threatening letters to Michael Douglas claiming that his Welsh wife would die "like Sharon Tate" or like "OJ Simpson's wife".

Knight, 33, is charged with one count of stalking and 24 counts of making criminal threats for allegedly sending threatening and violent letters to Douglas.

One letter said, "We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs."

Scientists studying the problem of some fans becoming stalkers will be watching the trial. Psychology experts at the Southern Illinois School of Medicine say Celebrity Worship Syndrome is becoming a global phenomenon.

Almost 90% of respondents related to celebrities at the "entertainment-social level" most people would recognise. They agreed with statements such as "My friends and I like to discuss what my favourite celebrity has done".

The next 10% were addicted at the slightly more compulsive "intense personal level" agreeing with statements such as "I consider my favourite celebrity to be my soulmate".

Finally around 1% of people became fixated to a dangerous degree, the "borderline-pathological" level of celebrity worship. These people are most likely to turn into stalkers.

US forensic scientist Park Dietz, one of the world's leading celebrity stalking authorities said, "One of the biggest mistakes a celebrity can make is to be over friendly. If they allow photo shoots in their homes and send autographed pictures that can in some cases support a kind of delusional relationship with the celebrity."


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