LOS ANGELES - The man accused of stealing an Oscar from Best Actress winner Frances McDormand entered a plea of not guilty in court on Wednesday.
Suspect Terry Bryant appeared behind glass in the Los Angeles courtroom in a blue jail jumpsuit when he entered his plea. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Deborah S. Brazil agreed to release him without bail.
His attorney Daniel Brookman had argued that the previous bail amount of $20,000 was unnecessary, calling the Oscar situation a momentary aberration. He said Bryant has had no contact with law enforcement for six years and represented no threat to the community.
Brazil said she was concerned by Bryant's four prior felony convictions on theft-related charges and his past failures to appear in court, which prosecutors argued should keep the bail unchanged. But she agreed that several years of good behavior and the lack of a threat to the community justified Bryant's release.
Bryant was near the exit of the Governors Ball when he was caught on camera with the Oscar statue in hand, but his attorney says don't jump to any conclusions.
"There's a difference between holding an Oscar and what he is charged with, so that will play out in court," Brookman said.
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The 47-year-old is charged with grand theft, accused of stealing the statuette from McDormand's table at the after party following Sunday's ceremony.
"We intend to resist the charges and defend our client very aggressively," Brookman added.
Bryant's spiritual advisor Naomi Levy spoke with reporters outside of the courtroom, saying Bryant is a "sweet and gentle man of faith."
According to Levy, Bryant has regularly attended services at Nashuva Spiritual Community for the past seven years. She would not comment on his psychological or mental health.
She left reporters with this thought: "Perhaps his story is a commentary on our whole society and its obsession with its 15 minutes of fame," Levy said.
If convicted in the case, Bryant could face a maximum of three years in county jail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.