- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

LOS ANGELES (Agence France-Presse) A jury yesterday was locked in deliberations over whether to convict actress Winona Ryder of shoplifting more than $5,500 of designer goods from a Saks Fifth Avenue store.

The panel of six men and six women began their first full day of deliberations late Monday after prosecutors and defense attorneys painted contrasting pictures of the 31-year-old Oscar-nominated actress.

Miss Ryder, who is free on $20,000 bail, has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft, commercial burglary and vandalism in the Dec. 12 incident. She is facing three years in jail, if convicted.

Analysts, however, predict that Miss Ryder is more likely to receive probation if jurors find her guilty.

Prosecutors urged the jury Monday to treat Miss Ryder as a common shoplifter, not a celebrity.

"She came, she stole, she left. End of story," Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle said in closing arguments.

"It is a simple case of theft. The law does not say there is a higher standard of proof for celebrities. The law treats everybody the same. I am asking you to hold Miss Ryder responsible for her conduct," she said.

The six-day celebrity trial has sparked a media frenzy outside the Beverly Hills courtroom.

Miss Ryder has made more than 30 movies and twice has been nominated for Oscars for best actress in 1995's "Little Women" and for a best supporting role in 1993's "The Age of Innocence."

During the trial, Saks' security chief and a policeman testified that Miss Ryder apologized after her arrest, saying she had been told to steal by a film director to prepare for a movie role as a shoplifter.

Another shop detective testified that she watched through the louver slats of a changing-room door as Miss Ryder knelt on the floor and cut security sensors off a pile of designer bags, dresses and hats.

But in his closing arguments, Miss Ryder's attorney Mark Geragos accused Saks employees of lying and planting evidence, including scissors reportedly found on the actress, in a drive to ensure a conviction.

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