LOS ANGELES – Catherine Zeta-Jones (search) took the stand Wednesday and read from 19 letters containing death threats written by a woman charged with stalking the Oscar-winning actress.
The letters suggested Zeta-Jones would be chopped into pieces "like Sharon Tate was," and referred to the violent deaths of President Kennedy and Nicole Brown Simpson (search).
In a quavering voice, Zeta-Jones, 35, gave more than three hours of testimony at a preliminary hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence to order defendant Dawnette Knight, 32, to trial.
"I've never in my life had anything or had anyone say anything to me so satanic," said Zeta-Jones. "I can't even imagine how a sane human being could have these images locked in their brain."
The actress testified after her husband, actor Michael Douglas (search), described the couple's ordeal and said Zeta-Jones needed medication to calm herself.
Knight, who apologized last month in a letter that claimed she had been infatuated with Douglas, was arrested June 3 at her Beverly Hills apartment and charged with one felony count of stalking and 24 felony counts of making criminal threats. She was held on $1 million bail.
When not responding to questions, Zeta Jones stared at Knight, who was handcuffed to a chair.
The actress said she lives in fear, despite the arrest.
"We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs," said one letter quoted by Zeta-Jones. Investigators have said they traced letters and phone calls to Knight.
The references to Tate — the actress who was a victim of the savage 1969 Manson Family killings — as well as Kennedy and Nicole Brown Simpson contained graphic detail of how Zeta-Jones would be killed. The letters also spoke of a plan that was 90 percent complete and said someone was always following her.
Another letter had Zeta-Jones' picture on the front and opened to reveal an "obituary" that listed the names of her in-laws, siblings, parents and children as next-of-kin.
Defense attorney Richard Herman said outside court that none of the letters were addressed directly to the actress, and he claimed Knight had been upset by a tabloid report alleging an affair between Zeta-Jones and George Clooney, a co-star in the upcoming film "Ocean's 12."
"That upset my client and she wrote her telling her to stop," Herman said.
If tried and convicted, Knight could face a sentence ranging from probation to 19 years in prison.
Douglas testified he felt shocked, frightened and vulnerable after learning of the threats to his wife.
"She just felt that she was a marked person," Douglas said.
In mid-May, while Zeta-Jones was in Amsterdam filming for "Ocean's 12," the operator at her hotel took three calls that were "violent ... shocking to the phone operator," the actress said.
Zeta-Jones testified she had a severe anxiety attack on her way to her home in Spain three days later. She felt faint, was sweating and shaking and had difficulty breathing, she said.
Zeta-Jones said the personal details in the letter — including her travel schedule, the names of her friends, relatives and her children's nanny and details about a former apartment — unnerved her.
"I didn't know where it was coming from," she said. "It seemed to be closing in on me and getting closer and closer to home and that in itself was horrific."