LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A 47-year-old man was ordered today to stand trial on a felony grand theft charge for allegedly taking actress Frances McDormand's Oscar from a table at the Governors Ball after the Academy Awards ceremony in March.
Superior Court Judge Mark Hanasono denied the defense's motion to dismiss the charge against Terry Bryant, ruling there was sufficient evidence to allow the case to move forward.
Bryant took a video of himself holding the Oscar at the motion picture academy-sponsored after-party and posted it online. It shows him holding the statuette and saying, ``Look at it, baby. My team got this tonight. This is mine. We got it tonight, baby.”
Cesario Tio, who works for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, testified that he learned near the end of the evening March 4 that McDormand -- who won the Oscar for best leading actress for her role in ``Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” -- had left her award on a table and that she couldn't find it.
He testified that he saw a tuxedo-clad Bryant come out of the ball with an Oscar raised over his head and heard him yelling, ``We did it! We did it!,” but he didn't recognize the man and asked him which award he had won. The academy employee said Bryant responded, ``Best producer -- Get Out,” which he knew was not a category. The employee also said the photographer with him zoomed in on digital images he had taken of Bryant with the award and saw a portion of McDormand's name on the trophy.
The academy employee said he followed Bryant to the top of the stairs at the Hollywood & Highland complex, grabbed the Oscar from him and turned it over to another employee.
Los Angeles Police Detective Debra Malinowski testified that she spoke later that month with McDormand, who said she didn't give permission to anyone other than her son to carry the Oscar. The detective said the actress told her she had placed it at a table at the bar, gotten distracted and walked away and then realized it was missing.
The judge sustained Deputy District Attorney Megan Loebl's objection when Bryant's attorney, Daniel Brookman, repeatedly asked the detective if McDormand had told her that she was not desirous of prosecution.
Duane Lyons, an attorney whose law firm represents the academy, said the awards cost more than $2,000 each and can't be sold without the academy first being allowed to buy the award back for $1.
"The value of the statuette is difficult to quantify,” he said, noting that he believes the award is ``priceless.”
Bryant's attorney contended that the elements of the crime of grand theft had not been shown and said there was no intent by his client to permanently deprive McDormand of the Oscar, saying his client was "not secreting it” and was ``posting it on Facebook” and ``showing it for the world to see.” He also questioned the value of the award once it's given.
Brookman had told reporters after an earlier court hearing that he hopes the charge will be dropped.
Bryant was arrested by Los Angeles police the night of the Oscars ceremony and released from jail in the early morning hours of March 8 on his own recognizance, despite the prosecution's objection.
Police said Bryant had a ticket to the Governors Ball at the Hollywood & Highland complex.
Bryant refers to himself online as an entertainment journalist and a film and music producer. His social media accounts also include photos of him at the Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and MTV Video Music Awards.
He is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment Aug. 8 and could face up to three years in county jail if convicted as charged.
Photo: Getty Images