"Free Winona" suddenly seems closer to reality.
Winona Ryder has one less felony count to worry about now that the Los Angeles District Attorney's office has asked the judge to drop a drug charge against the Girl, Interrupted star.
In a surprise move Wednesday--just seven days before the start of her long-awaited and much-postponed trial--prosecutors sent a two-page brief to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elden Fox saying they are seeking to rescind the count of unlawful possession of the prescription painkiller oxycodone "in the interests of justice."
Prosecutors apparently made the decision after receiving a sworn statement from a defense witness that raised "a question as to whether the defendant possessed the requisite criminal knowledge necessary," according to the court filing by Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle.
"The People," added Rundle, "remain ready for trial as to the remaining felony charges."
That means Ryder, who turns 31 on October 29, still faces three counts--felony grand theft, second-degree burglary and vandalism--stemming from her alleged shoplifting spree last December at the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue. She has pleaded innocent to all charges and is currently free on $20,000 bail.
The D.A.'s office declined to discuss the nature of the witness declaration, who made it, or whether evidence of a prescription was presented.
Ryder's attorney, Mark Geragos, told the Associated Press he was pleased with the D.A.'s action. "It simplifies things immensely," he said.
He wouldn't elaborate on what the new declaration contained, only saying, "We gave them additional support for the prescriptions we had already supplied."
Ever since Ryder's arrest last December, Geragos has maintained that the two-time Oscar nominee had a prescription for the oxycodone--a generic form of Percoset. Geragos has insisted that his client was unfairly targeted because of her celebrity status and recently said he turned down a plea deal with prosecutors because Ryder did nothing wrong.
Fox will decide whether to drop the drug charge when the trial begins next Tuesday. (It had been slated to start this week, but was pushed back due to scheduling conflicts.)
Even without the drug count, if Ryder's convicted of the shoplifting charges, she could face up to three years in prison, though it's likely that she'd probably end up receiving probation instead.