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Ryder's defense team expected to present case

Actress Winona Ryder arrives for court Wednesday.
Actress Winona Ryder arrives for court Wednesday.

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A prosecution witness says she saw actress Winona Ryder using scissors to cut large anti-theft sensors off items she is accused of shoplifting. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports (October 31)
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Watch the security surveillance tape that shows Winona Ryder's movements in a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store. (October 30)
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LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The defense in the shoplifting case against actor Winona Ryder was expected to begin presenting its case Friday by calling on law enforcement representatives to testify about why they had changed their accounts of what happened.

Ryder, 31, is accused of stealing more than $5,500 in merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills last December.

The star of "Girl, Interrupted" and "Little Women" is charged with felony grand theft, burglary and vandalism. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to three years in prison on each count. Her publicist said Friday that the actor is not expected to testify.

The prosecution rested Thursday.

Ryder's attorney, Mark Geragos, is expected to question a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and a public information officer for the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Both law enforcement representatives had originally said that a surveillance video taken by the department store shows Ryder cutting anti-theft sensor tags and price tags from merchandise, and stuffing it into her shopping bags. After learning that the videotape does not show such actions, they changed their stories.

The case is expected to go to the jury by Tuesday, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

A lawyer for Ryder suggested Thursday that a store investigator may have had a motive to try to frame the actress for shoplifting and said that much of what the investigator testified about previously in the trial was not listed on a report about the incident.

In Geragos' cross-examination of prosecution witness Colleen Rainey, the former investigator for Saks' theft-and-loss department, he suggested that Rainey and her husband, a struggling screenwriter, hoped to cash in on the story.

Geragos showed the court paperwork detailing large deposits to the couple's bank account. Rainey said she didn't know where the money had come from, because her husband took care of all of their finances.

Rainey vehemently denied Geragos' allegations and testified that she had never received any money to talk about the story and had not sold her account of it to a tabloid magazine.

Geragos also said that several key points of Rainey's testimony Wednesday -- that Ryder was seen taking scissors out of her purse, that she cut security tags off some items, and that when stopped, the actress said she was researching a movie role -- were details that were not listed on the initial incident report.

Rainey said she amended the report to include those points the day after the alleged shoplifting. She testified Wednesday that the actress apologized before her arrest, telling authorities she should have notified the store about the research for the movie role.

Mara Buxbaum, a publicist for Ryder, said the movie role story was the result of security guards at the store "twisting and morphing" their conversation with the actress after she was detained.

Buxbaum said a guard asked Ryder if she had read the Steve Martin novel "Shopgirl." She said no, and then told the guards she was preparing for a role in a film called "White Jazz," the publicist said.

Wednesday, Rainey testified that Ryder told her she was taking the items -- which included a $750 blouse and a $540 purse -- to research a role for a film called "Shopgirl." But when Beverly Hills police arrived, Rainey said she heard the actress tell them it was for a movie called "White Jazz."

Another security guard, Ernest Amaya, told the court Thursday that after Ryder was stopped with the merchandise, she apologized and said she thought her assistant had paid for the items. He said the actress was polite and friendly.

-- CNN Producer Stan Wilson contributed to this story.



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