Date: 7th November 2002

Winona Ryder guilty of shoplifting.

Hollywood actress Winona Ryder has been found guilty of grand theft and vandalism for stealing goods worth $5,500 (3,500) from an exclusive department store in Beverly Hills.
After deliberating for more than five hours over two days, the jury cleared Ryder cleared of a third charge of commercial burglary.

The two-time Oscar nominee is due to be sentenced on 6 December.

Although she faces a possible prison term of up to three years, prosecutors said after the verdict they would not ask the judge to send her to jail.

Ryder did not take the witness stand during the six-day trial, which heard how she cut security tags off clothes and bags before walking out of the store without paying for them.

The verdict will be a huge blow for one of Hollywood's hottest stars, who made her name in films like Little Women, The Age of Innocence, Edward Scissorhands and Girl, Interrupted.

"We will not be asking for jail time in this case," Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle told journalists after the end of the case.

"I think we are dealing with probation, community service and restitution."

The court heard that she went to the Saks Fifth Avenue store prepared for a shoplifting spree with scissors, a garment bag and tissue in which to wrap the stolen goods.

Prosecutors said the star paid for four items but stole another 20 under her own "bonus programme".

The defence said Ryder believed Saks would keep her account "open" while she shopped and charge her later - but there was no evidence of an account.

"She may have been stealing just for the sheer thrill of seeing if she could get away with it," prosecutor Rundle said during her summing-up on Monday.

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

Security guards had earlier told the court that Ryder's explanation when first apprehended was that a film director told her to do it to prepare for a movie role.

"The law doesn't say crime is OK if your director told you to do it," Ms Rundle said. "And there is no evidence that a director told her to do it."

The jury of six men and six women included several of Ryder's Hollywood peers - among them the former head of Sony Pictures, the studio that made three of her best-known films.

Source: Press Release



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