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Juror explains Ryder verdict

High praise for prosecutor

Jurors found Ryder guilty of grand theft and vandalism.
Jurors found Ryder guilty of grand theft and vandalism.

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CNN's Paul Clinton says the shoplifting trial of actress Winona Ryder was full of surreal moments and dramatic flair (November 6)
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A Los Angeles jury found actress Winona Ryder guilty of grand theft and vandalism but not guilty of commercial burglary (November 6)
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• Court TV.com: Case coverage external link
• Amended information: People v. Ryder  (FindLaw, PDF)external link
• EW.com: All about Winona external link

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The jurors who convicted actress Winona Ryder of shoplifting based their verdict on just two things: that she tried to walk out of the store without paying for items, and that she vandalized the items, one of the jurors said Thursday.

"Ultimately, the choice was made not considering ... the witness testimony or even the video," juror Walter Fox told CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight."

"It became apparent to us that [of] all of the information that we had, all we really needed was that fact that she walked out of the store, which was essential, that she had merchandise for which she had not paid, and that some of the merchandise had been vandalized," he said.

Fox had high praise for prosecutor Ann Rundle, saying she did an "excellent job," and was meticulous, but Rundle's colorful arguments -- complete with a David Letterman-style "Top 10" list and a cartoon poster of Ryder's alibis -- were overkill, he said.

"But she couldn't have known that when she was presenting the evidence," Fox said.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated several hours Tuesday before returning the verdict Wednesday.

Jurors found Ryder guilty of felony grand theft and vandalism for stealing more than $5,500 in clothes and accessories from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills last December. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison, but Rundle said she would not seek jail time.

Fox's account of the deliberations indicate that at least some members of the jury had similar problems with prosecution witnesses; that they were inconsistent, and the fact that the video did not show Ryder actually committing a crime.

"Initially there were a few jurors who were very unhappy with what they perceived was the quality of the Saks Fifth Avenue witnesses," Fox said.

Those witnesses included the store's head of security and a store theft investigator, who testified Ryder brought scissors to cut large anti-theft sensor tags out of designer clothes, then told them she was doing it in practice for a movie role.

Ryder's attorney Mark Geragos blamed the allegations on a conspiracy by Saks staff to protect the store from liability. He also said the store investigator never listed key points of her testimony on the initial incident report, and suggested she and her husband, a struggling screenwriter, hoped to cash in on the story.

Fox said he did not consider the case to be frivolous, nor did he think the jury ever felt sorry for the actress.

"We were basically concerned with the facts of the case, and no matter who it was, we felt that we had to come to a just decision," he said.



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