11/07/2002 AT 1:00 AM ET
Winona Ryder was found guilty of two out of the three felony counts against her, a Beverly Hills Superior Court jury announced Wednesday.
But the legal wrangling might not be over just yet: The actress’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, plans to petition for a new trial, NBC News reports.
Ryder was found guilty Wednesday of vandalism and grand theft but not of commercial burglary. That count would have required the jury to believe Ryder’s shoplifting spree was premeditated.
Walter Fox, a juror in the case, said on Thursday morning’s “Today” show that the surveillance tape showing Ryder leaving the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store with stolen merchandise was the most damning and persuasive evidence against her.
The decision was reached after some 5 1/2 hours of deliberations over two days. That is considered relatively fast – given the amount of evidence in the case – and quickly reached verdicts usually tend to be guilty verdicts, say legal experts.
As she awaited her verdict Wednesday, Ryder, 31, seated next to Geragos in the courtroom, looked nervous and wide-eyed.
The “Girl, Interrupted” star was on trial for removing nearly $6,000 in unpaid merchandise from Saks last December. She had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carried a maximum sentence of up to three years.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.
After the verdict, prosecutor Ann Rundle told reporters that she would seek a sentence calling for community service and probation for the actress rather than jail time, so long as “Winona Ryder is made responsible for her conduct,” she said.
Show business experts have said that the case should have little, if any, effect on her career. In fact, there have been reports that she has received movie offers during her legal tangle, despite not having had a box-office hit in some time. (Her 2000 movie “Autumn in New York” with Richard Gere was a bust; this year’s “Mr. Deeds” fared better, but its success is generally attributed to Adam Sandler.)
The jury had received the case late Monday after closing arguments, during which the prosecution suggested that Ryder shoplifted simply for the thrill of it. The defense, meanwhile, portrayed her as the victim of a Saks security force out to frame her.
Judge Elden Fox instructed the jury as he discharged them that for three months they cannot profit from telling their stories about being on the jury.
“Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey are off limits,” he told them.