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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 01:35 GMT 02:35 UK
Winona injury delays shoplifting case
Winona Ryder at Beverly Hills
Ryder had to run the media gauntlet
Hollywood actress Winona Ryder has successfully pleaded for her court hearing on shoplifting charges to be delayed for a fifth time.


I want your client here, so call her

Judge Elden Fox
A judge in Beverly Hills postponed the case - in which Ms Ryder is alleged to have stolen almost $5,000 worth of clothing - until Thursday.

Her lawyer told Judge Elden Fox that Ms Ryder could not go on with Monday's hearing, after her right elbow was struck by camera equipment in a media melee outside the court building.

She was nursing her right arm, although television shots of the incident showed her holding her left elbow immediately after the incident.

Lawyer Mark Geragos had initially arrived without his client for the hearing which will determine whether the case is substantial enough to be sent for jury trial.

He told Judge Fox that he was seeking a further postponement, despite the fact that the judge had earlier made clear he would tolerate no more delays in the six-month case.

"I want your client here, so call her," Judge Fox told Mr Geragos.

The 30-year-old actress arrived an hour later, wearing a cream coat, making no comment to waiting reporters.

In the subsequent crush, she was hit on the arm by a camera, and a court official was injured in the head.

'Misunderstanding'

Earlier, the court heard testimony from a security guard at the Beverly Hills department store from which Ms Ryder is alleged to have stolen $4,800 (3,300) of clothing.


I was able to see she still had the black hat, it was no longer on her head but was in her bag on top of her red Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag

Security guard Kenneth Evans

She was arrested in December 2000, but she categorically denies charges, including theft, burglary and vandalism, which carry a maximum jail sentence of more than three-and-a-half years.

Kenneth Evans, a security manager for Saks department store, told the court he had seen Ms Ryder walking around the store picking up items of clothing.

He said she spent time in a changing room and emerged "no longer plainly in possession of items".

Mr Evans also noticed that Ms Ryder had put a black hat she had picked up in her bag.

"I was able to see she still had the black hat," he said. "It was no longer on her head but was in her bag on top of her red Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag."

She left the store after walking past several cash registers, he added.

Her lawyer has said Ms Ryder was only carrying items between store departments and had a prescription for the drugs.

He said at the time of her arrest that there had been "a misunderstanding".

Jokes

Police have also said Ms Ryder was in possession of the painkiller oxycodone - a morphine derivative - without a prescription.

She was recently seen shrugging off the troubles and making bawdy jokes on stage at the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday.

The actress, who earned Oscar nominations for playing the heroines in the period films Little Women and The Age of Innocence, has been free on $20,000 (13,700) bail.

She is also known for her roles as a troubled teenager in Girl, Interrupted and starring opposite future boyfriend Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands.

A hearing in May was delayed because her lawyer was busy with a murder case.

The actress appeared on the cover of the June issue of W magazine wearing one of the Free Winona T-shirts that have become a cult phenomenon.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles
"She was apparently struck on the left elbow by a photographer"
The BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles
"Initially her lawyer arrived alone"
See also:

23 May 02 | Entertainment
14 Dec 01 | Entertainment
14 Mar 02 | Americas
13 Mar 02 | Entertainment
14 Dec 01 | Entertainment
01 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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