Spielberg stalk case goes to deliberation

Deputy DA calls Norman 'jackal,' 'predator'

After a weeklong trial, the fate of the man accused of lying in wait for Steven Spielberg with the intention of raping him is in a jury’s hands.

Jonathan Norman, charged with one felony count of stalking, faces as many as 25 years in prison if the jury that begins deliberating today finds him guilty of the crime. During closing arguments Monday, the 31-year-old kickboxing enthusiast sat sullenly at the defense table, barely glancing at the prosecutor who spelled out his alleged pursuit of the filmmaker in damning detail.

“He sat outside the residence numerous times waiting for the victim to come home,” Deputy District Attorney Rhonda Saunders said, recounting a series of incidents last summer that culminated in Norman’s arrest on July 11 last year near Spielberg’s Pacific Palisades estate. In his possession were three sets of handcuffs, a box-cutter knife blade, razor blades and duct tape, as well as a shopping list that included chloroform, three dog collars and four pairs of nipple clamps.

Saunders, describing Norman as a “jackal” and a “predator” who was sexually obsessed with the director, recounted how Norman had cased Spielberg’s property and tried to scale a fence surrounding it.

“Jonathan Norman did everything he could to get access to him,” the prosecutor said. “Jonathan Norman left when he was told to leave, but he came back, over and over and over.”

When his turn came, Deputy Public Defender John C. Lawson II told the jury in Santa Monica Superior Court that none of the allegations against Norman amount to a crime and that the case would not have been prosecuted had Spielberg not been a famous, wealthy man.

“Our legislature has not yet made it a crime to be weird, to be strange or to have bad thoughts,” Lawson said, “because if they did there would be a whole lot of us in Southern California in jail.”

But the defense attorney seemed to concede that Norman’s stated intention of sexually assaulting Spielberg had hurt his case. “I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you,” he said, “that Jonathan Norman doesn’t have some issues.”

Spielberg took the stand last Wednesday, quietly describing the extreme fear that Norman’s actions has instilled in him and his family.

“I think he’s on a mission and won’t be satisfied until he accomplishes that mission, and I think I’m the subject of that mission,” Spielberg said. “I could only speculate that what he wanted to do to me, he might also want to do to someone else in my family.”

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