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Madonna Tells of Fears About Alleged Stalker

Courts: After entering building under tight security, singer testifies that she still has nightmares about the incidents.

January 04, 1996|ANDREA FORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pop superstar Madonna, declaring herself sick at being in the same room with the man accused of stalking and threatening to kill her, reluctantly came to court Wednesday and testified that she was terrified of him and still has nightmares about him attacking her.

Dressed conservatively and at times looking grim, Madonna testified for 90 minutes in the courtroom of Judge Jacqueline A. Connor, who had banned television cameras and news photographers.

Only twice did the entertainer glance briefly at the defendant, Robert Dewey Hoskins, as he sat slumped in his seat rarely looking at her.

Asked by Deputy Dist. Atty. Rhonda Saunders how she felt, Madonna replied:

"Sick to my stomach. . . . I feel incredibly disturbed that the man who repeatedly threatened my life is sitting across the room from me. I feel we are making his fantasies come true."

That was the last-ditch argument her lawyer had used earlier in the day in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Connor to remove Hoskins from the courtroom while Madonna was on the witness stand.

Connor refused to do that, saying that such a move could prejudice the jury against Hoskins, making the jurors believe that he was dangerous when they are required, at this point in the trial, to presume him innocent.

Saunders and Hoskins' lawyer, Deputy Public Defender E. John Myers, had opposed the request on the grounds that Hoskins has a constitutional right to face his accuser. Saunders said she did not want to provide Hoskins with grounds for an appeal if he is convicted.

Hoskins, who was shot and wounded by Madonna's bodyguard at her Hollywood Hills estate in May, is charged with one count of stalking the entertainer, one count of making a terrorist threat against her, one count each of making terrorist threats against her bodyguard and her secretary, and one count of assaulting the bodyguard.

In his opening statement, Myers contended that his client had been overcharged, saying "the evidence will be completely lacking" on the stalking charges. Myers portrayed Hoskins as "essentially a homeless guy who poses no threat to Madonna or anyone else." Hoskins could be sentenced to a 10-year term if convicted.

His trial was supposed to start last month, but was delayed when Madonna ignored a subpoena to appear in court to testify, saying she was sick and had to go to Argentina to film the movie "Evita."

At that time, Judge Andrew Kauffman issued an order requiring her to be in court Jan. 2, or face being jailed on $5-million bail.

Madonna was given a one-day reprieve while jurors were being selected.

She arrived at the courthouse Wednesday afternoon under tight security in a large black luxury car with tinted windows. She could be seen inside wearing dark glasses as the car was driven into an underground garage that is also used to bring prisoners into the building.

Reporters were brought into the courtroom before Madonna was led in by a contingent of armed bailiffs and bodyguards.

Wearing a calf-length charcoal sweater suit with spiked heels and simple jewelry and with her hair in a French twist, the entertainer at first appeared nervous on the witness stand.

But by the time Myers cross-examined her, she had become testy and outspoken.

When Myers asked her how tall her bodyguard is, she responded, "How tall are you?"

At another point when he tried to elicit what she told a Los Angeles police detective when he tried to serve her with a subpoena, her response was acidic.

"Don't try to put words in my mouth," she snapped.

When recounting the incidents that led to Hoskins' arrest, however, she often took long pauses and closed her eyes as she testified.

He first came to her estate April 7 when she was not at home, she said, gaining access to the property by climbing a high wall that surrounds it.

He was chased off, Madonna testified, by her bodyguard Basil Stephens, who was inside the house and alerted to the intruder by her security system.

The next day, she said, while she was out bicycling with her trainer, Hoskins returned and through the intercom outside her gate told her secretary, Caresse Henry, he would "slice my throat from ear to ear" and kill everybody in her house if he were not allowed to see Madonna.

While he was there, the entertainer said, she cycled up to her gate and passed within feet of Hoskins, who she said was filthy with disarranged hair.

"He had a really crazy look in his eyes and he was staring at me in a very strange way," she said. "I said something like, 'It looks like the freaks are out today.'

"I said it in a half-joking manner, but I was actually very disturbed about the look in his eye."

The entertainer identified a note written on a religious pamphlet that she said Hoskins had left at her gate. The pamphlet has the word "defiled" printed in large type across the top, and words Saunders said were written by Hoskins scrawled all over it, such as, "I love you. You will be my wife for keeps" and "kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss."

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