Jury gets Winona Ryder shoplifting trial

Nov. 4, 2002 at 8:09 PM
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The shoplifting trial of Winona Ryder went to the jury Monday afternoon, after the defense rested without calling the Oscar-nominated actress to testify in her own defense.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating in earnest Tuesday morning.

Ryder, who turned 31 last week, is charged with stealing more than $5,500 worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills in December 2001. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted of grand theft, burglary and vandalism.

In her closing argument, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle told the jury the case against the star of "Little Women" and "The Age of Innocence" is clear.

"She came, she stole, she left, end of story," said Rundle.

Rundle suggested that thrill-seeking may have been the motive for Ryder's alleged crime.

"She may have been stealing just for the sheer thrill of seeing if she could get away with it," said Rundle, citing a line from Ryder's 2000 movie "Girl, Interrupted."

"Have you ever confused a dream with life," said Ryder in a voiceover in the film, "or stolen something when you have the cash?"

In presenting its case last week, the prosecution showed the jury a store security videotape that it said showed Ryder clipping security tags from merchandise and stuffing items in her bag. Rundle asked the jury to decide whether the tape showed "a glamorous celebrity" or someone preparing to shoplift.

Ryder's lawyer Mark Geragos argued that the tape only showed Ryder was on a "legitimate" shopping trip -- not stealing. TV viewers following the case may finally see the Saks security video, now that it has been released to the media.

Prosecutors put Saks Fifth Avenue security employees on the stand to testify that Ryder confessed after they arrested her on the sidewalk outside the store. The witnesses said that Ryder admitted taking the merchandise as part of her preparation for a role.

Borrowing a technique from "Late Night with David Letterman," Rundle showed the jury a list of the "Top 10" notions that jurors should ignore in deciding Ryder's fate. Some of the reasons listed were:

"Only poor people steal."

"If there's no video there's no crime."

"It's not stealing as long as you pay for some items."

"Crime is okay as long as your director tells you to do it."

Rundle reminded jurors that shoplifting is still a crime, and that "there is no evidence that a director told her to do it."

Geragos put a former Saks employee on the stand to testify that store security official had vowed to "nail" Ryder.

Ever since taking the case, Geragos has argued that Saks security guards and L.A. County prosecutors have been engaged in an "overzealous" prosecution of his client. He told the jury in his closing argument that the prosecution case was riddled with inconsistencies, and said there is "no shame" in returning a not guilty verdict for Ryder.

Superior Court Judge Elden Fox once again refused to allow into evidence a written statement allegedly signed by Ryder at the insistence of Saks private security personnel.

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