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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
Jury selection begins in Ryder trial
Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder entered a not guilty plea to revised charges
Winona Ryder has finally appeared in court in Los Angeles as her trial for shoplifting at a Beverly Hills store began on Thursday, after 10 months of delay.

The Hollywood actress entered a not guilty plea to revised charges related to the taking of $6,000 (3,877) of designer goods from Saks Fifth Avenue, one of Hollywood's most exclusive outlets, last December.

The rest of Thursday's hearing was taken up with selecting the jury with particular efforts being made to find a panel unaffected by the publicity surrounding the case.

Ms Ryder, 30, faces charges of grand theft, burglary and vandalism, and could face up to three years in prison on each count. She denies all the allegations.

A fourth charge of illegal possession of the painkiller Oxycodone was dropped by the prosecution last week.

Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder's case has attracted huge publicity

Ms Ryder left the Beverly Hills Superior Court soon after entering her plea to the amended charges.

She was ushered in and out of court by her legal representatives and did not speak to reporters.

Meanwhile, about 40 prospective jurors were asked to fill in questionnaires to judge their suitability.

The questions focused on their attitudes to Ms Ryder in the light of the high level of media coverage since her arrest.

They were asked six questions, including whether they had any sympathy or antipathy toward Ms Ryder herself, and if they had read any of the numerous media stories about the case.

'Prior acts'

The first day of the trial was also taken up by behind-closed-doors discussions of pre-trial motions between the judge and lawyers.

Ms Ryder's lawyers were angry when a newspaper report on the eve of the trial claimed that prosecutors planned to call employees from two upmarket stores to support a motion regarding possible "prior acts" by Ms Ryder.

Winona Ryder in Mr Deeds
Winona Ryder can currently be seen in the movie Mr Deeds

The "prior acts" motion had been filed under seal and the judge had been expected to rule on whether it would be admissible at trial.

Ms Ryder's publicist Mara Buxbaum accused prosecutors of leaking the reports. The actress has no previous police record.

The trial went ahead after plea bargain negotiations collapsed last month.

At a preliminary hearing in June, a Saks security investigator said she saw Ryder kneeling on a dressing room floor in the store cutting security tags off merchandise with a pair of scissors.

Ryder's lawyer, Mark Geragos, has accused Saks staff of lying and accuses prosecutors of "having an axe to grind" against the actress because of her celebrity.

One Saks security investigator said she saw her kneeling on a dressing room floor cutting security tags off merchandise with a pair of scissors.

Jury selection is expected to resume on Friday afternoon.

See also:

24 Oct 02 | Entertainment
16 Oct 02 | Entertainment
11 Jun 02 | Entertainment
14 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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