The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Winona Ryder’s most damaging day in court

Beverly Hills, Oct. 31 (Reuters): Winona Ryder endured her most damaging day in court so far yesterday as a witness testified seeing her in a posh Beverly Hills dressing room — not trying on designer clothes but cutting security tags off handbags and leaving stains from a bleeding finger on one of them.

Minutes later, the jury in her trial on charges of shoplifting was shown the alleged haul of rhinestone hairbows worth over $100 dollars each, cashmere socks with an $80 price tag, and designer tops retailing at around $700 apiece that were said to have been found stuffed in Ryder’s bags and hidden on her person.

Ryder, who spent her 31st birthday on Tuesday in court watching her own videotaped arrest last December, sat silently glaring, sometimes shaking her head, as each of the items and prices were read out to the gasps of a packed courtroom.

The Girl, Interrupted star has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft, second-degree burglary and vandalism for allegedly walking out of the Saks Fifth Avenue store with more than $5,500 in items she did not pay for in a Beverly Hills shopping spree last December 12.

Her lawyer, Mark Geragos, has said Ryder is innocent of the charges and was singled out by overzealous prosecutors and security staff “who got out of control” because of her celebrity status.

He has sought to punch holes in the testimony of Saks security staff, grilling them on minor inconsistencies in their various initial statements to police and prosecutors.

Geragos said Ryder had left her credit card with the store that day — but two Saks sales assistants who helped Ryder denied that her account had been left open or that she had VIP privileges allowing her to remove items on approval.

Ryder could face a prison term of up to three years if convicted. It is not known whether she will take the stand in her own defence in what is expected to be a seven-day trial.

Former Saks security officer Colleen Rainey told the jury yesterday that she was sent to observe the two-time Oscar nominee through the slats of a second-floor dressing room door after Ryder aroused the suspicions of the store’s security chief. Rainy said the first thing she saw was Ryder kneeling on the floor, tending to a cut on a bleeding finger.

“I saw her looking over items she had taken in — several pairs of socks, hair accessories, a hat, a blouse. She was kind of organising them. Then she entered into her handbag and grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting sensor tags off,” Rainey said.

Rainey said she saw Ryder cut out the sensor tags from two handbags and attempt to remove tags from two other bags. Two spots of blood were found on one — a Calvin Klein purse with a $795 price tag. The actress then removed tissue paper from a plastic bag and wrapped some of the socks, hats and hairbows before hiding them in her shopping bag, Rainey said.

Saks security chief, Kenneth Evans, yesterday denied having vowed to “nail” Ryder over the incident, which was caught on a 90-minute video tape. The video shows the petite actress wandering around the store, struggling to keep hold of several shopping bags while piling merchandise both on top of a large garment bag draped over her arm.

Ryder could face a prison term of up to three years if convicted. It is not known whether she will take the stand in her own defence in what is expected to be a seven-day trial.

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