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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 15:03 GMT
Video 'shows Winona is innocent'
Winona Ryder arrives at court
The tape shows Ms Ryder walking around the store
A surveillance video from a department store shows actress Winona Ryder is innocent of shoplifting charges, according to her lawyer.

A TV show and newspaper, who have also seen the footage, say it does not back up accusations that Ms Ryder ripped security tags from clothes, which she stuffed into a bag.


This tape exonerates her

Mark Geragos
Winona Ryder's lawyer
Ms Ryder has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, burglary, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance after being arrested in December 2001.

The tape was due to be shown at a preliminary court hearing on Thursday.

Store detectives at Saks Fifth Avenue, in Beverly Hills, said Ms Ryder attempted to steal clothing and hair accessories worth $4,760 (3,375).

The tape shows her walking around the store, talking to shop assistants and trying clothes on for up to 90 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper and the Extra television show.

Winona Ryder
Ms Ryder was arrested in Beverly Hills on 12 December
"Contrary to the public perception, this tape exonerates her," her lawyer Mark Geragos told the LA Times.

It did not show her removing security tags, reported Extra, who said they examined it frame-by-frame.

When Ms Ryder was charged, prosecutors said a tape from a closed-circuit camera showed her using scissors to cut security tags from merchandise.

But on Tuesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley declined to discuss the contents of the tape seen by Mr Geragos and Extra.

He did not want the case to be tried through the press, he said.

Painkiller

He said it would be up to a court "to see evidence introduced according to the rules of evidence, not according to some game that someone is playing".

Ms Ryder was arrested after being stopped by security guards at Saks on 12 December.

Police said she also possessed the painkiller Oxycodone - a morphine derivative - without a prescription.

The actress faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted.

'Mix-up'

Mr Geragos said at the time of her arrest there had been "a misunderstanding".

Ms Ryder had already bought several items of clothing and the arrest followed a mix-up between two shop assistants, he said.

He added that she had a valid prescription for the drugs but could not show it to police at the time.

Ms Ryder has twice been nominated for Oscars - for the lead role in 1994's Little Women and for best supporting actress in Martin Scorsese's 1993 version of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence.

See also:

14 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Winona charges may be dropped
01 Feb 02 | Showbiz
Winona Ryder charged with theft
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