Winona's Lawyer Slams Key Witness

Winona Ryder's lawyer suggested Wednesday that the prosecution's key witness in the shoplifting case against the actress has changed his account and did not turn over important material to attorneys.

Saks Fifth Avenue security official Ken Evans acknowledged that he had not given anyone his own case file, which included six photographs taken of Ryder just after she was detained by security guards at the Beverly Hills Saks on Dec. 12, 2001.

Attorney Mark Geragos immediately asked for a recess to study the file and Superior Court Judge Elden Fox reluctantly agreed to the interruption of the third day of testimony.

Ryder is charged with felony grand theft, burglary and vandalism for allegedly stealing items totaling $5,560 on Dec. 12, 2001. Ryder, who starred most recently in this year's Mr. Deeds, faces up to three years in prison if convicted of the three counts.

Ryder, who paid for about $3,700 worth of items before leaving the store, was detained outside by security guards and brought back inside.

Evans, who watched Ryder via security cameras, also acknowledged that in all of his statements and in his preliminary hearing testimony in June he failed to say that one of his security officials was seen running into a fitting room that Ryder occupied and the employee was carrying a red Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag.

"It was a year ago and there have been many other cases since then," Evans said of his failure to mention the activities of Colleen Rainey.

"Didn't you say yesterday you had reviewed the case and were more familiar with it now than you were back then?" asked Geragos.

"I did say that," said Evans.

"Then how come you didn't remember the bag?" Geragos asked.

"It's been nearly a year," said Evans.

Also seen on a new security videotape shown in court was a saleswoman walking alongside Ryder with a notebook in which she made notes. Evans said he didn't know what the book was. On Tuesday he testified about a program in which Saks kept track of items borrowed by shoppers who took them home without paying in order to decide whether they wanted to purchase them.

Ryder marked her 31st birthday Tuesday in the defendant's chair as the jury watched security videos showing her moving through the store heavily laden with merchandise before entering dressing rooms.

Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle displayed a small pair of scissors and asked Evans if Saks sells such items. He said the store does not.

Rundle contends that Ryder brought the scissors with her and used them to remove sensor tags from merchandise.

She displayed to jurors a blouse with a huge hole at the bottom where a sensor tag allegedly was cut off. Evans also identified purses with holes in their linings.

Anticipating Evans' cross-examination and the defense theory of the case, Rundle had him describe special prestige programs which the store has for frequent shoppers.

Members of the "Fifth Avenue Club" are allowed to take items home and decide if they wish to keep them. The same applies to "studio services," which allows stylists from movie and TV productions to borrow clothes and later pay for them or return them.

Evans said Ryder was not a member of either group.

In another development Wednesday, the judge scheduled a hearing for Thursday in response to a state appeals court ruling on a motion by news organizations seeking to unseal documents in the case.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal found that Fox erred when he held secret hearings in the case and did not make any findings on the record to justify his sealing of pretrial legal documents.

The appeals court noted that the presumption of openness is essential to "the very nature of a criminal trial under our system of justice."

The appeals court gave Fox the option to hold a new hearing and make findings on the record about why he wants documents sealed. Attorney Susan Seager, who represents The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, said the appeals court can then look at Fox's reasoning and rule whether it was justified.