The suspect charged with threatening to "slice up" the star takes sleeping pills, postponing a hearing

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 30, 2004 08:00 AM

An obsessed fan accused of making death threats against Catherine Zeta-Jones was found slumped on the floor of her Los Angeles jail cell Thursday after illicitly taking two sleeping pills.

Dawnette Knight, 32, described as an aspiring psychologist, is charged with 25 counts of stalking Zeta-Jones with threatening phone calls and letters from January 2003 to May 2004. The actress and her husband, Michael Douglas, testified Wednesday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial.

Attorney Richard Herman, who is defending Knight, dismissed suggestions that the incident was a suicide attempt by his client, reports Reuters.

He also told reporters that Knight posed no danger to the actress and was sorry about the letters, parts of which were read out in court by the Oscar-winning Chicago actress Wednesday. The writer of the letter threatened to “slice up (Zeta-Jones) like meat on a bone” and blow her head apart “like President Kennedy’s.”

Said Herman of Knight: “She is just devastated. She is very, very sorry. She had no idea (the letters) would cause so much distress. … She just wanted a good night’s sleep and she took two sleeping pills and got a little too good a night’s sleep.”

Knight reportedly was taken to a hospital after prison guards were unable to rouse her. After being checked out, she was returned to her jail cell. Thursday’s court proceedings were postponed as a result of Knight’s condition but are expected to resume Friday.

Herman described Knight as having an enormous crush on Fatal Attraction star Douglas to the point of being convinced Zeta-Jones had married him for his money and was unfaithful to him.

“This is probably the only ‘stalker’ case ever where the defendant has no history of mental problems. She is perfectly normal. This is an aberrant thing that happened to a normal woman,” Herman said.