Winona Witness Testimony Falls Apart

11/04/2002 at 12:00 PM EST

Dressed as if she might be ready to testify in her shoplifting trial, Winona Ryder arrived in Beverly Hills Superior Court early Friday afternoon wearing a classic black skirt, cream-colored blouse with a black button-down sweater and black 3-in. pumps, PEOPLE reports.

Only she didn't testify. Instead, her attorney, Mark Geragos, called Michael Shoar, a former Saks Fifth Avenue employee, to the stand.

The "Girl, Interrupted" star, 31, faces up to three years behind bars should she be convicted on charges of grand theft, second-degree burglary and vandalism for allegedly walking out of the Beverly Hills Saks with nearly $6,000 in unpaid merchandise. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"He mentioned he had a very important case," Shoar said on the stand, referring to a conversation he had with Ken Evans, a former friend and head of security of Saks Fifth Avenue. Shoar described Evans as "vindictive" and claimed that Evans "said he would nail that rich Beverly Hills bitch."

"He said he was going to bring her down one way or the other," testified Shoar. "He said he would make enough evidence to make sure the charges would be true."

At first it appeared that Shoar was the smoking gun needed by the defense. But then prosecuting attorney Ann Rundle grilled Shoar, exposing him to be a disgruntled ex-employee of the store.

"Isn't it true that you have a lawsuit of your own pending with Saks Fifth Avenue, Mr. Shoar?" Rundle asked assertively.

"Yes, it is," replied Shoar.

"And isn't it true you have an ax to grind with Saks Fifth Avenue, Mr. Shoar?"

"Yes it is," Shoar replied as the courtroom erupted into laughter, prompting Judge Elden Fox to admonish the crowd to behave.

All told, the tarnished witness remained on the stand for a little more than an hour.

With only three defense witnesses called, Ryder's fate seemed as shaky as when the day began. When court resumes Monday, the defense may continue -- there is still speculation that Ryder may testify, though the smart money is saying that she won't -- or else closing arguments might begin.

The case could possibly go to the jury as early as Monday afternoon.

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