By Stephen M. Silverman
November 06, 2002 01:00 PM

Winona Ryder was found guilty of two out of the three felony counts against her, a Beverly Hills Superior Court jury announced Wednesday shortly before noon West Coast time.

She was found guilty of vandalism and grand theft but not of commercial burglary.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Dec. 6.

Ryder, 31, seated next to her attorney Mark Geragos, looked nervous and wide-eyed as she awaited the verdict.

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.

The “Girl, Interrupted” star was on trial for removing nearly $6,000 in unpaid merchandise from the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store last December.

She had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carried a maximum sentence of up to three years.

Many legal experts have predicted that the actress will receive probation rather than jail time.

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.