Prosecution rests case against Ryder

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 12:14 a.m.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The prosecution rested its case against Winona Ryder on Thursday after calling a police detective to bolster the testimony of Saks Fifth Avenue employees who said the actress shoplifted $5,500 of merchandise.
Detective Mark Parker described Ryder as calm the night of her arrest. "She had a smile on her face," he said.
Ryder, 31, is charged with felony grand theft, burglary and vandalism for allegedly stealing expensive clothes. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
Store security personnel have testified that the actress remarked that she thought an assistant had paid for the merchandise, but also that she had shoplifted as preparation for a movie role.
"Ms. Ryder was talking a lot, asking me what was going to happen next," Parker said. "She was nervous about what was going to happen. . . . At one point she was explaining that she was getting in character for a role as a kleptomaniac. She wanted to see what it was like to shoplift."
Parker's testimony triggered a dispute over who found scissors with which Ryder allegedly cut sensor tags off merchandise. Parker said he told the prosecutor he asked Ryder if she had any sharp instruments and she pulled the scissors from a pocket.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Mark Geragos pointed out that an early report in the case said the scissors were located by security guard Colleen Rainey. The issue was not resolved.
Also testifying Thursday was Ernest Amaya, a Saks asset protection agent who said he was called to the front door to be there when Ryder left so that she could be detained.
"I said, 'Excuse me, I work in asset protection and need to talk to you about merchandise unpaid for.' She said, 'I thought my assistant paid for it. I am very sorry,' " Amaya said.
No assistant has been seen with Ryder in security videotapes of the actress moving through the store heavily laden with merchandise.
Geragos earlier aggressively cross-examined former store security guard Colleen Rainey, who had testified that she peered through slats of a fitting room door and saw Ryder use scissors to cut security tags off merchandise.
Geragos accused her of profiting from the case and making up stories.
Geragos was displaying documents detailing the finances of Rainey and her husband after Ryder's arrest when Judge Elden Fox interrupted. "Are you going to tie this into something relevant, or just go into her family background?" the judge asked.
Geragos insisted he would show relevance, but he never proved the couple somehow benefited from her involvement in the Ryder case. The judge also warned Geragos he could be held in contempt after the attorney made a remark about "perjury," or lying in testimony, while questioning Rainey.
The judge also held a special hearing in response to an appellate court ruling on an effort by news organizations to gain access to sealed documents in the case.
Fox said he will unseal small, edited portions of transcripts of some transcripts that he had sealed, but found that other documents considered prejudicial to the defendant will remain secret. The items unsealed will be released next week, he said.
The appeals court ruled that he erred in not making on-the-record findings of his reasons for sealing. His findings Thursday will go to the appeals panel for review.

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