November 01, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

The prosecution in the Winona Ryder shoplifting trial in Beverly Hills rested its case Thursday after one last witness, police detective Mark Parker, testified that Ryder told him she was rehearsing for a role when she allegedly boosted nearly $6,000 in merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue. His statement echoed an earlier assertion by former Saks guard Colleen Rainey, whose testimony the defense tried to undermine by grilling her for 90 minutes over whether she had tried to profit from her encounter with the star.

”At one point she was explaining that she was getting in character for a role as a kleptomaniac,” Parker testified, according to press accounts of the trial. ”She wanted to see what it was like to shoplift.” He was the third witness, after Rainey and Saks security chief Kenneth Evans, to testify that Ryder had given that Method-acting excuse for her actions. On Wednesday, Rainey had testified that Ryder had told Saks staff that the movie was the adaptation of Steve Martin’s novel ”Shopgirl” (which is about a clerk at a Beverly Hills department store) and told police it was the adaptation of James Ellroy’s crime novel ”White Jazz.” Ryder’s publicist told reporters late Wednesday that Ryder had been in talks to star in both movies, deals that ultimately failed to go through, but that neither role involved shoplifting, and that witnesses had mischaracterized Ryder’s mention of the movies.

Ryder’s attorney, Mark Geragos, cross-examined Rainey with questions focusing on small inconsistencies in her story, like her failure to mention in her initial report about her spotting Ryder allegedly snipping sensor tags from merchandise, that she was peering at the actress through the slats of a dressing-room door. Geragos presented documents noting that Rainey and her aspiring-screenwriter husband had set up a ”writing services” business within a couple weeks of Ryder’s December arrest, Reuters reports, but Rainey denied that she was trying to capitalize on the incident by selling her own story. Under questioning by prosecutor Ann Rundle, Rainey said she had not spoken about the case to tabloid-TV shows or on ”Larry King Live” — unlike Geragos, E! notes.

Rainey denied other allegations, saying she had not hurled something at Ryder and called her a ”bitch,” and had not rifled through Ryder’s address book and copied the phone numbers of celebrity acquaintances like Bono and Keanu Reeves. Geragos begins presenting witnesses on Friday, one of whom may be Ryder herself. Asked if his client would testify Friday, Geragos told Reuters, ”I can’t tell you now. I’m going to talk to her.”

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