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Opening statements in Winona Ryder trial

  |   Oct. 28, 2002 at 8:52 PM
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- In opening statements at Winona Ryder's shoplifting trial in Beverly Hills Monday, prosecutors told jurors that Ryder went into a Saks Fifth Avenue store intending to steal merchandise last December, while Ryder's lawyer said the case was "nothing more than some security guards who got out of control."

In her opening presentation, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle said Ryder planned to carry out "her own two-for-one bonus program." Rundle said Ryder even brought her own scissors to clip store security tags from designer hats, socks, purses and hair accessories, as well as a package of tissue paper to wrap around the items and give the impression that they had been paid for.

Ryder's lawyer, Mark Geragos, repeated a claim he has made in numerous media interviews since Ryder's arrest, that his client --who is charged with grand theft, burglary and vandalism -- is a victim of overzealous prosecution.

"This is nothing more than some security guards who got out of control," said Geragos.

During a trial that is expected to last six or seven days, the jury is likely to watch a 19-minute videotape shot by a Saks security camera.

Geragos told the jury on Monday that the tape will show Ryder doing nothing "except -- surprise -- shopping." He said evidence would show that Ryder had already asked a store employee to hold her account open, because she intended to pay for her purchases at the end of her trip.

Ryder's lawyer accused Saks security employees of threatening and otherwise mistreating her after detaining her outside the store and bringing her back inside for questioning. He said one security guard lifted Ryder's shirt as she "screamed at them to stop."

Geragos also accused security personnel of changing their accounts of the arrest.

"What really happened," he said, "was they saw it was Winona Ryder immediately, and they focused in on her."

The jury includes Peter Guber, a movie executive who ran Sony Pictures Entertainment when Ryder made several movies for Sony -- including "The Age of Innocence" and "Little Women." Ryder was nominated for a best actress Oscar for "Little Women" and a supporting actress Oscar for "The Age of Innocence."

When Superior Court Judge Elden Fox asked Guber whether he felt he could render a fair and impartial verdict, Guber said he could. The Los Angeles Times reported that, one day before jury selection last week, Guber made a casual remark at the courthouse suggesting that he was sure he would not be chosen for the Ryder case.

"I have about as much chance of getting on this jury as the man in the moon," the paper quoted Guber, who runs Mandalay Entertainment. "I only made three pictures with the lady."

Guber is not the only jury member with a Hollywood connection. The jury also includes a programming development executive for an entertainment company and the husband of an executive at the Walt Disney Co.

Several other prospective jurors also disclosed show business connections during the selection process, prompting to observe dryly, "I think we have all the studios represented."

All prospective jurors said they were familiar with Ryder as an actress and as an accused felon, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The jury also includes a teacher, a UCLA graduate student, a fast-food restaurant worker, an aerospace engineer, a mortgage company employee and an obstetrician-gynecologist.

Ryder has been free on $20,000 bail since her arrest.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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