Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in stalking case

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow Takes the Stand In Stalker's Trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Gwyneth Paltrow testified Monday in the trial of a man accused of stalking her, saying he sent her upsetting letters discussing his intention to marry her, her death, pornography and unsolicited gifts.

Dante Soiu is accused of stalking the Oscar-winning actress for 17 years, but the case focuses on the most recent batch of 66 messages he's sent her between 2009 and 2015.

Paltrow was the first witness called and authenticated 48 of the letters, many of which contain religious messages and statements referencing Paltrow's death.

The actress broke down briefly Monday afternoon when a prosecutor asked Paltrow about whether she feared for her children's safety as a result of Soiu's missives.

"Yes," Paltrow responded tearfully. She quickly regained her composure and explained why she was so rattled by Soiu.

"I'm scared because the communications completely defy logic," she said. "I've been dealing with his -- for 17 years with the communications from this man."

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In one of the recent packages Soiu sent Paltrow, he included clothes he wanted her to wear.

His lawyer said Soiu has simply written letters to Paltrow, and that recent letters haven't included pornography. Attorney Lynda Westlund said Soiu is a Christian man who is just trying to minister to the actress.

Paltrow testified about letters and packages she received from Soiu dating to 1999, including several that contained pornography, sex toys and statements that he wanted to cleanse her of sin.

"This is a case that has gone on for Ms. Paltrow for 17 years," Deputy District Attorney Wendy Segall said during opening statements. "Her sense of security has been shattered by this man."

Paltrow, 43, remained mostly composed in the witness stand, showing concern on her face and wiping her eyes at one point during approximately an hour of testimony. Dressed in a white turtleneck and black slacks, she at one point identified Soiu, 66, who was wearing a blue shirt and gray sweater.

Soiu was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2000 in a previous trial involving messages he sent to Paltrow, which included pornography and sex toys. He was sent to a mental institution for several years, but re-arrested last year after sending the actress new correspondence.

The recent batch of letters described Soiu's intention to marry Paltrow and also a pair of earrings he sent her in 2009 as a Christmas gift. He has also sent her religious books, and forwarded her letters he has sent to President Barack Obama and actress Angelina Jolie.

See photos of Gwyneth Paltrow with Chris Martin over the years:
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Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in stalking case
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin attend the 3rd annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting J/P HRO presented by Giorgio Armani at Montage Beverly Hills on January 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)
CULVER CITY, CA - JANUARY 28: Singer/Songwriter Chris Martin (L) and actress Gwyneth Paltrow attend Hollywood Stands Up To Cancer Event with contributors American Cancer Society and Bristol Myers Squibb hosted by Jim Toth and Reese Witherspoon and the Entertainment Industry Foundation on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Entertainment Industry Foundation)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 26: General Views of Chris Martin And Gwyneth Paltrow's North London Home on March 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/FilmMagic)
LONDON - JULY 02: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and daughter Apple watch Coldplay singer Chris Martin perform on stage at 'Live 8 London' in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 27: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (L-R) Chris Martin, Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow attend the after party following the concert by Jay-Z at The Royal Albert Hall, at Movida on September 27, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) on August 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LONDON - MAY 6: Heavily pregnant actress Gwyneth Paltrow covers her face as she leaves a yoga class in London on May 6, 2004 in London. Paltrow is married to Coldplay singer Chris Martin and the birth of their first child is imminent. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
KAUAI, HI - MAY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are seen on May 01, 2003 in Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LONDON - JULY 02: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow and daughter Apple watch Coldplay singer Chris Martin perform on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
LONDON - JUNE 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Coldplay singer Chris Martin attends an exhibit known as 'The Innocents' at the Gogasian Gallery June 10, 2004 in London, England. The exhibit features images of men who were originally sentenced to long prison terms in the U.S., but then were ultimately found innocent. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
KAUAI, HI - MAY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are seen on May 01, 2002 in Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
KAUAI, HI - MAY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are seen on May 01, 2002 in Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
KAUAI, HI - MAY 01: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are seen on May 01, 2002 in Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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One letter described Paltrow "bowing to death." The actress said the reference was disturbing.

In another, Soiu is accused of writing, "I have a goal: to marry Gwyneth Paltrow and take care of her."

"I felt very upset by it," Paltrow said.

"This has been a very long and very traumatic experience already," Paltrow said.

At the top of another letter, Soiu is accused of writing, "I am sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me." Paltrow said she recognizes Soiu's handwriting after having received so much correspondence from him.

Paltrow won an Oscar in 1999 for her role in Shakespeare in Love. She has two children with estranged husband Chris Martin, the frontman of the band Coldplay.

The pair's divorce, filed in April 2015, is still pending.

Soiu, who is from suburban Columbus, Ohio, has pleaded not guilty. He shook his head during portions of Segall's opening statement, but has remained quiet throughout Paltrow's testimony Monday.

Her testimony came a day after Paltrow appeared at Super Bowl 50, cheering on estranged husband, Chris Martin, and his band Coldplay, and her friend Beyonce Knowles, during their halftime performance.

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