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Testimony begins in Spielberg stalker case

Steven Spielberg   
February 20, 1998
Web posted at: 3:55 a.m. EST (0855 GMT)

SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- The man charged with stalking Steven Spielberg was sexually obsessed with the famed movie director and went to Spielberg's house last summer with a "rape kit," a prosecutor told jurors on Thursday.

Opening statements were given and testimony began in the trial of Jonathan Norman, who was charged with one count of felony stalking.

Norman was arrested near the director's Pacific Palisades home in July 1997. Police found duct tape, handcuffs and a utility knife in his possession. Also recovered were pictures of Spielberg.

Norman, 31, listened in court as Deputy District Attorney Rhonda Saunders told jurors in her opening statement that Norman's actions made Spielberg "fear for his safety," adding that Spielberg "fully believed" the defendant could carry out a rape or assault.

"We need only show that he (Norman) intended to put the victim in fear of his safety," Saunders said. "It's a type of mental terrorism."

John Lawson, Norman's attorney, told jurors in his opening statement that while his client "had weird thoughts and fantasies," it is not illegal to have strange thoughts.

"You have to determine if Mr. Norman is being prosecuted for his thoughts. Stalking is not a crime of thoughts," Lawson said.

He also said Norman was at one time hooked on methamphetamine, which may have prevented him from having "specific intent to stalk the director.

"This is not the Steven Spielberg trial," Lawson said. "He makes fine films, but he is only a man."

A security guard testified that he confronted Norman at the Spielberg house on June 29 and on July 11, the day Norman was arrested.

Spielberg, who was out of the country when Norman was arrested, is expected to be called as a witness.


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