Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones tell a court that a woman made violent threats

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 29, 2004 08:00 AM

In what sounded like a bizarre real-life scene out of his own 1987 movie Fatal Attraction, Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, testified in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday against a woman accused of being infatuated with him and making violent threats to Zeta-Jones.

Dawnette Knight, 32, described as an aspiring psychologist, is charged with 25 counts of stalking Zeta-Jones with threatening phone calls and letters between January 2003 and May 2004. The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial.

Among the letters allegedly from Knight that were presented in the hearing and read aloud by Zeta-Jones, 35, included a threat to slash the actress’ throat “like Nicole Simpson” and to blow her up “so pieces of her head look like President Kennedy’s.”

Knight reportedly looked calm during the testimony, during which Zeta-Jones struggled to maintain her composure, Reuters reports.

Douglas, 59, said he first learned of threats being made in March 2004, when he received a phone call at his mother’s hotel in Bermuda from what he described as a woman with a Southern accent. Upon learning of previous threats – some of which reportedly were in letters sent to the couple’s friends and to his father, Kirk Douglas – Douglas went to the police, who told him he must inform Zeta-Jones.

Until then, Douglas said in the hearing, he was trying to keep the ugly nature of the threats and the very existence of them from his wife.

“She just felt that she was a marked person, (she) couldn’t understand how they knew where she was,” Douglas said in reference to the personal details about Zeta-Jones that were contained in the letters.

During her testimony, Zeta-Jones, who said the stress of the threats nearly caused her to have a heart attack, said while staring down Knight, who played with her hair braids: “It’s hard to keep telling you how I feel. I’m running out of words. … It’s so satanic a terrorist threat.

“I have never had a death threat in my life and this will affect me for the rest of my life,” she told the court.

Kinght was arrested in June, after which she reportedly apologized to Zeta-Jones in a letter. Knight also admitted to being “infatuated with Michael Douglas.”

Knight is being held on $1 million bail. If convicted of the charges – she has pleaded not guilty – she could face 19 years in prison.