LOS ANGELES (AP) — An Ohio man charged with stalking Gwyneth Paltrow testified Wednesday that he sent her dozens of messages in the hope she might want to marry him despite her testifying against him in a previous stalking case.
Dante Soiu testified that he wanted his messages to show her unconditional love and friendship and that he had no animosity toward her over the earlier case, which sent him to a mental institution for several years. That case involved 500 messages, including sex toys and pornography, Soiu sent Paltrow in 1999 and 2000.
Soiu told jurors he wanted to let Paltrow know he was available and willing to marry her if the opportunity arose. His lawyers called him to testify in his own defense in the felony stalking case.
He sent Paltrow 66 messages and packages between 2009 and 2015, but none of the recent correspondence included pornography. A judge has said the earlier messages could be important to understanding Paltrow’s fear of Soiu.
Paltrow testified Monday she was afraid of Soiu and began crying when she expressed fears about her children’s safety.
Deputy District Attorney Wendy Segall questioned why Paltrow would want to marry him after he had sent her so many lewd messages and she had to testify against him.
“I was trying to show I had changed and I had become a different person,” Soiu said. “I wanted to show a new face towards her.”
Soiu said he didn’t want to scare the actress, but he was intent on her responding to him. “I wanted her to say flat out, ‘I don’t want to marry you,’ ” he said. “That way I would have a definite response from her.”
He said he wrote to many public figures, including President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin offering counsel on world affairs and solutions to problems.
He conceded that his notes to Paltrow were the only ones that expressed an interest in marriage. “Oh, no, I don’t want to marry Putin,” Soiu said.
Soiu was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2000 in the previous case involving pornographic messages he sent to Paltrow. He was re-arrested last year after sending the actress new correspondence.
He said he was addicted to pornography at the time but said he is now on medication and considers himself healed.
The recent batch of letters described Soiu’s intention to marry the actress as well as a pair of earrings he sent her in 2009 as a Christmas gift, some secondhand clothes and a Weight Watchers cookbook. He has also sent her religious books, and forwarded her letters he has sent to President Barack Obama and actress Angelina Jolie.
One letter described Paltrow “bowing to death,” a reference the actress said she found disturbing.
Soiu, a self-described born-again Christian from Columbus, Ohio, said he was referencing spiritual, not physical death, in his letters.
He said he hoped the Oscar winner would write him back if she wanted him to stop. “I wanted her to at least be a pen pal or at least say something,” Soiu said.
Soiu testified he believed he had an understanding with Paltrow’s lawyer that he could write to the actress until he was told to stop. He conceded that he never spoke or corresponded with the lawyer to reach that agreement.
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