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Shopgirl

Winona shoplifted three times before, prosecutor told judge -- In newly unsealed documents from a pretrial hearing, the prosecution said it had videotapes from Ryder's other alleged shopping sprees

Winona Ryder | AT THE MERCY OF THE COURT Evidence of Ryder's alleged past misdeeds was squelched by the judge
Image credit: Winona Ryder: Lee Celano-Pool/Getty Images/Newscom
AT THE MERCY OF THE COURT Evidence of Ryder's alleged past misdeeds was squelched by the judge

The Winona Ryder shoplifting trial may have ended last week with the actress' conviction on felony counts of grand theft and vandalism, but the prosecution continues. On Friday, newly unsealed transcripts from a pretrial hearing on Oct. 24 revealed that the Los Angeles district attorney's office claimed that Ryder had been caught shoplifting three times before by security guards at other high-end department stores, and that at least two of those incidents had been caught on videotape, just like the incident at Saks Fifth Avenue for which Ryder was tried.

According to the transcripts, as obtained by the Associated Press, prosecutor Ann Rundle said that Ryder had shoplifted at Barneys in New York on May 14, 2000, and Oct. 10, 2001, and at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills on Nov. 29, 2001, just two weeks before her arrest at Saks. Security cameras captured two of those incidents, Rundle said. ''We have videotapes of two prior instances wherein she is seen doing the identical conduct that they will see on the video in our case.'' However, defense lawyer Mark Geragos noted that Ryder had never before been detained, arrested, or charged with a crime, and that admission of alleged prior bad acts would be prejudicial to his client. Judge Elden Fox agreed, saying such evidence, ''would impair the defendant's ability to have a fair trial.''

He sealed the transcripts, though he unsealed them two days after the trial ended in response to a state appeals court decision in a case brought by AP, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles Daily Journal, arguing that the transcripts should be made public. Asked about the transcripts late Friday, Geragos declined to comment to AP.

Meanwhile, a ''pre-preliminary report,'' a file prepared on Ryder in anticipation of her sentencing on Dec. 6, has gone missing from a locked cabinet at the Los Angeles County Probation Department's office in Santa Monica, Reuters reports. Department spokesman Ken Kondo said he had no explanation for the file's disappearance. ''From our standpoint, we're concerned,'' he said, though he noted that the department had backup copies. Regarding a possible security breach, he said, ''It's under investigation right now.''

Originally posted Nov 11, 2002