A bodyguard for pop superstar Madonna testified Thursday that of all the fans who come to take pictures outside the entertainer's estate and even those who occasionally scale its wall, none seemed more of a danger than the man now on trial for allegedly stalking and threatening to kill her.
That is why, Basil Stephens said, he armed himself in May when a man he identified as Robert Dewey Hoskins climbed Madonna's wall after throwing two bags over it.
Stephens, testifying under questioning by Deputy Dist. Atty. Rhonda Saunders on the second day of Hoskins' trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, said the defendant had been at the Hollywood Hills property on two previous occasions.
On Hoskins' third and last trip, it "looked like he was bringing his bags and he was moving in," Stephens said.
In an earlier incident, the bodyguard said, Hoskins had threatened to kill him if he did not deliver to Madonna a note scrawled on a religious pamphlet.
Hoskins' demeanor frightened him as much as the threats, said the 6-foot, 195-pound bodyguard, who is trained as a boxer.
"He had a determined look in his eye and a determined manner," Stephens recalled.
Hoskins has pleaded not guilty to stalking Madonna, making a terrorist threat against her, making terrorist threats against Stephens and Madonna's secretary, Caresse Norman, and assaulting Stephens. He faces a maximum 10-year sentence if convicted.
His lawyer, Deputy Public Defender E. John Myers, has described Hoskins as "essentially a homeless guy" who is harmless.
But Stephens said he considered the defendant extremely dangerous. Hoskins' behavior in May, the bodyguard testified, went from bizarre to violent, so much so that Stephens said he was forced to shoot the alleged intruder.
When he and another armed security man confronted Hoskins on Madonna's property that day, Stephens said, Hoskins shouted that he lived on the estate and that they would be fired from their jobs for disturbing him. He then walked away.
When the two next saw Hoskins a short time later, according to Stephens, the defendant was standing by Madonna's pool not far from her bedroom, wearing a pair of shorts and dripping wet, as if he had taken a dip.
Instead of lying on the ground as he was told, Stephens said, Hoskins kept pulling clothes out of one of his bags and getting dressed, seemingly oblivious to the two guns trained on him. Realizing that threatening Hoskins with a gun was having no effect, he holstered the weapon, the bodyguard testified.
Stephens, left alone with Hoskins while the other security man went to see if police had arrived, said he shot the defendant twice after Hoskins repeatedly lunged at him, tried to choke him and attempted to take his gun from its holster.
Stephens said he thought he had killed Hoskins, but found him sitting up near the pool 10 minutes later with wounds to his arm and abdomen.
"I said to him, 'There's an ambulance coming. I'm sorry I shot you,' " Stephens testified. Hoskins, he said, responded, "No problem."
As part of Stephens' testimony, the eight-man, four-woman jury was shown film from a security camera taken the day of the shooting. It showed a figure Stephens said was Hoskins climbing a "No Trespassing" sign outside Madonna's gate, jumping from the wall onto her property and peering in her front door.
On Wednesday, Madonna testified after being ordered to appear in court under the threat of being jailed on $5-million bail. She had ignored a subpoena to be a witness in the case.
She did so, she testified, because she is afraid of Hoskins and because she did not want to give him the satisfaction of seeing her in person.
Madonna also testified that she was disturbed by Hoskins' demeanor and "the look in his eye" when she passed within a few feet of him as he stood outside her gate the second time he allegedly was spotted on or near her property.
She became terrified, she said, after learning that Hoskins allegedly had told Norman through an intercom at the gate that he would slice Madonna's throat "from ear to ear" and kill Norman and everybody in the house if he did not get to see the singer.
Norman took the witness stand Thursday and told the jury that when she informed Hoskins through the intercom that the entertainer was not home, he shouted that he was Madonna's husband and unleashed the torrent of death threats.
The case could go to the jury as early as today, according to Superior Court Judge Jacqueline A. Connor, who is presiding over the case.