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Look at Winona Ryder Shoplifting Trial

Aired November 2, 2002 - 09:50   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And another star is in the news, but for a very different reason this time. Winona Ryder's lawyer says the actress likely will not take the stand in her own defense when her shoplifting trial resumes on Monday. Yesterday the defense called its star witness to the stand. The former Saks Fifth Avenue employee testified that the head of security for the store had a vendetta against the actress.

MICHAEL SHOAR, FORMER SAKS EMPLOYEE: On the phone he told me he would nail -- he had nailed this Beverly Hills bitch and also when I saw him in person in the restaurant, he told me that he would make enough evidence to bring her down for this case.


COLLINS: Still, the defense called the testimony a disaster, because the witness admitted to having an axe to grind against Saks.

So attorney and Extra! entertainment correspondent Michel Bryant joins us now this morning for more on the Ryder case. And Bryant has been inside the courtroom every day.

So what's your take on this testimony?

MICHEL BRYANT, EXTRA! CORRESPONDENT: Well, it kept the jurors awake. That was important. That was good. And let me tell you a quick story before I get to what I thought of that guy, because I get to interact with the jurors. I don't talk to them, of course, that would be inappropriate.

But I was riding up in the elevator the other day during afternoon session, and by law, I do not have to stick my fingers in my ears and go, La, la, la, la, la. If they say something and I hear it, that's that's the way it goes.

They each it a Big Gulp of some caffeine drink, hoping that the caffeine would keep them awake through the afternoon. So they're looking for something to keep them awake. And this guy yesterday at least was entertaining.

But I don't think he was very credible, and judging from the laughter that floated through the courtroom, including the jury box, I don't think they thought he was too credible either, but very entertaining. COLLINS: Entertaining, all right, well, we'll take that. What about Winona, though? Do you think that she'll take the stand? And should she take the stand, in your opinion?

BRYANT: Well, yes, in my opinion, she definitely should take the stand, but as Mr. Geragos mentioned to me yesterday, he's pretty happy with where they are right now. That was his phrase. I think it's that he doesn't want her to take the stand. Her publicist says she isn't going to take the stand, but she wants to take the stand badly.

And I think it's because she's been hearing all of this about her, and hasn't had a chance to talk about her. She's a performer and has a flair for the dramatic. We've seen that flair just in facial expressions while she's been in the courtroom.

I think she's dying to take the stand, and the state of the evidence right now suggests, in my opinion, she needs to take the stand.

COLLINS: Michel, what's the latest on some of the information that we've been hearing about what Winona said about rehearsing or doing some research for an upcoming movie? None of us know what the movie is. What are you hearing there about that?

BRYANT: Well, nothing really more than what you've just suggested, except that now three people have testified consistently that she made a statement that she was, in fact, getting into the role, getting into character as a kleptomaniac, as a shoplifter, and, in fact, admitting at one point she wasn't very good at it.

But nothing really more in terms of the development of those projects. We know "Shop Girl" was written by Steve Martin. In this town, you know, at any given time, there are thousands of projects in development. So certainly there could be projects out there to which she was attached at the time.

But there hasn't really been anything that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) can prove, that, yes, so-and-so was directing it, it was going to be shot here, it was a certain studio. None of that has proven to be true.

And if she does take the stand, I think we can anticipate she'll just deny that, because to admit it is to say, Well, I did shoplift. I'm not sure that there's a legal excuse for practicing for a role. I don't think that's a legal excuse to shoplift.

COLLINS: All right, and so what do you think? Do you think she'll be found guilty, or do you think she's get off?

BRYANT: Well, you know, we've seen juries do weird things when those of us watching might suggest guilt when they find not guilty. O.J. But I think the state of the evidence right now suggests they will find her guilty unless she talks to them and convinces them she's not.

And then all she has to do is maybe hang up one or two jurors to make them think, Well, she's nice, and she was -- she made a mistake, and, I, you know, she really isn't a bad person. And maybe they'll get a hung jury. But I think right now, unless she takes the stand, that they will find her guilty.

COLLINS: All right, Michel Bryant, we do thank you this morning for your expertise on that.

BRYANT: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks, guys.

O'BRIEN: Well, if she does take the stand, it'd be nice to see that one on TV. Too bad. No cameras in that courtroom.

COLLINS: Yes, yes.


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