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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 11:13 GMT
Winona 'cut' security tags
Actress Winona Ryder
Ms Ryder allegedly said she was practising for a movie role
A prosecution witness in the shoplifting trial of Winona Ryder has told a court she saw the actress cutting the security tags off items of clothing at Saks in Beverly Hills in December.

Ms Ryder is accused of trying to steal more than $5,500 (3,500) of designer goods from the exclusive department store near Los Angeles.

Saks security guard Colleen Rainey told Beverly Hills Superior Court on Wednesday that she had been asked to keep the actress under surveillance.

She then allegedly saw Ms Ryder cutting the tags off handbags inside a fitting room before she was detained for suspected theft.

The actress, who is free on bail, denies felony charges of grand theft, commercial burglary and vandalism.

Actress Winona Ryder
It is not known if Ms Ryder will testify

She could face three years in jail if convicted.

On the third day of the trial, Ms Rainey testified to looking through the slats in a dressing room door to see what the actress was doing.

Ms Rainey said that, once detained by Saks security staff, Ms Ryder said: "Didn't my assistant pay for it?"

Ms Rainey also reiterated the earlier testimony of another guard who said that, after Ms Ryder was detained, she said she had been shoplifting to prepare for a movie role.

"She said it was a movie called Shopgirl," Ms Rainey said.

She added that Ryder later told police that she was practising for the film White Jazz, a crime drama in which she was to play a shoplifter.

'Nail'

Saks' head of security, Ken Evans, testified earlier on Wednesday that Ms Ryder had said she was shoplifting on the instructions of the director of her new film.

But Ms Ryder's defence attorney Mark Geragos suggested that Mr Evans was deliberately trying to have the actress found guilty.

Winona Ryder in Mr Deeds
Ryder recently starred in the movie Mr Deeds

Mr Geragos said Mr Evans had told one of his Saks colleagues, after the arrest, that he was going to "nail" the actress. Mr Evans denied the claim.

On Tuesday, Mr Geragos accused Mr Evans of changing his story about finding discarded security tags on the day of Ms Ryder's visit to Saks.

Mr Evans admitted he had made one inaccurate earlier statement about the exact timing of finding the security tags, but otherwise stuck to his story.

Mr Geragos maintained that security guards targeted the actress because she was a celebrity and that they had lied about what they saw.

Peers

On Thursday, a hearing is due to take place in response to an appeals court ruling on a motion by news organisations seeking to unseal documents in the case.

Ms Ryder is best known for roles in films such as The Age of Innocence, Alien: Resurrection, and Girl, Interrupted.

The jury includes several of Ms Ryder's Hollywood peers - including the former head of Sony Pictures, the studio that made three of her films.

It is not yet known whether Ms Ryder will give evidence during the trial, which is expected to last up to a week.

See also:

30 Oct 02 | Entertainment
29 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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11 Jun 02 | Entertainment
14 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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