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Ryder's Shoplifting Trial Set for Oct. 7

Plea: Unable to agree on a deal, attorneys seem eager to face a jury.

September 19, 2002|ANNA GORMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Plea negotiations in actress Winona Ryder's shoplifting case have stalled, prompting attorneys to set an Oct. 7 trial date.

Shepard Kopp, one of Ryder's attorneys, said that there had been an impasse in the discussions and that Ryder was looking forward to going to trial "to prove herself innocent of the charges."

Though neither side ruled out a last-minute plea deal, Kopp said, "The odds are that this case will go to trial."

Los Angeles County district attorney's office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said her office had made an offer that is now off the table. "That clears the way for the trial," she said, adding that prosecutors are eager to present the case against Ryder to a jury.

"We'll be presenting our evidence," Gibbons said. "We feel it's very strong. We'll let a jury decide."

Ryder, star of such films as "Girl, Interrupted" and "Little Women," is accused of shoplifting about $6,000 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue in December.

She is charged with four felony counts: second-degree burglary, grand theft, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance. Ryder could face more than three years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elden S. Fox ruled in June that there was enough evidence for Ryder to stand trial, after a Saks security investigator testified that she saw the actress snip anti-theft tags off two black purses she never paid for.

Ryder, who is free on $20,000 bail, was not at the brief hearing at the Beverly Hills courthouse.

Kopp said outside court that Fox had suggested a settlement offer that was "somewhat different" from the offer made by prosecutors, but he would not elaborate. The district attorney's office and Fox also declined to disclose what the offers were.

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