Ryder goes on trial on charges of shoplifting

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Winona Ryder went on trial Monday on charges of shoplifting more than $5,500 in designer hats and other merchandise, with her lawyer depicting the actress as a victim of overzealous security guards.

The prosecution called it a simple case of theft.

"When you enter a department store with the intent of stealing, that is burglary," prosecutor Ann Rundle said in her opening statement. "When you cut tags off of merchandise, that is vandalism. And when you walk out the door with $5,560.40 worth of stolen property, that is grand theft, no matter who you are."

The 30-year-old "Girl, Interrupted" star was arrested in December at a Saks Fifth Avenue store. She is accused of stealing hats, handbags, hair accessories and other merchandise.

She could get up to three years in prison if convicted of grand theft, burglary and vandalism.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos said that the department store had her credit card on file and that Ryder told a clerk to keep it open. He said that when Ryder was detained she said, "You've got my credit card; you can do what you want with it."

He also said Ryder was mistreated and threatened by the security guards who accused her of stealing.

The trial is expected to last five to seven days.

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