LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A sobbing Paris Hilton was sent back to jail on Friday as a judge overturned a sheriff department’s decision to place the heiress under house arrest after just three days behind bars.
The slender 26-year-old celebrity trembled and cried quietly throughout the hearing and then broke into loud sobs when the judge ordered her back behind bars. “Mom, Mom. It’s not right,” she shrieked as she was led out of the courtroom. Her mother, Kathy Hilton, sobbed.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer ordered Hilton to complete her 45-day sentence in jail rather than at home, marking a stunning turn of fortune for the multimillionaire socialite who has become a symbol of the excess of America’s celebrity culture.
But it remained unclear how long the star of the television reality show “The Simple Life” would spend in jail since she will be given time off for good behavior.
Sheriff Lee Baca, who runs the county detention facilities, let Hilton out of jail on Thursday for unspecified medical reasons and ordered her confined to her lavish house in Hollywood Hills with an electronic monitoring device attached to her ankle.
At that point she had served just three full days of what was expected to be a 23-day stint in jail. She had been on probation for reckless driving when she was caught driving her Bentley with a suspended license.
The hearing was delayed two hours because of confusion over whether Hilton would testify by video from her Hollywood Hills home, or in person.
Finally, she was handcuffed and placed weeping into a sheriff’s car for the trip to court and later driven back to jail, trailed by news helicopters.
The sheriff’s department did not say what health issues led to Hilton’s shift to house arrest.
Judge Sauer said in court on Friday that he was contacted by a sheriff’s official on Wednesday and told a psychiatrist who examined Hilton in jail reported a serious problem.
But Sauer did not elaborate and said the sheriff’s department never gave him any documentation of Hilton’s condition. “I at no time condoned the action of the sheriff,” Sauer said from the bench.
The sheriff’s decision sparked national outrage and accusations of preferential treatment for a celebrity, though Hilton’s original sentence was considered by many to be excessive.
The City Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted Hilton, said Sheriff Baca overstepped his authority and should be held in contempt of court for violating the judge’s sentencing order, which expressly prohibited electronic monitoring.
Assistant City Attorney Dan Jeffries said that if Baca felt Hilton needed to be released on medical grounds, he should have sought a court hearing to review the matter.
Attorneys for the sheriff’s department argued that Baca has the discretion to effectively modify a sentence under his authority as chief administrator of the jail system.
Hilton’s lawyer, Richard Hutton, asked the judge to allow Hilton to return to house arrest while such a hearing was convened, but the judge refused.
And at the end of an hour-long hearing, he declared, “The defendant is remanded to the L.A. County jail to serve the balance of her 45-day sentence. The order is final.”
Celebrity Web site TMZ.com said Hilton’s lawyer was planning to appeal her sentence. TMZ also reported that she would probably spend the weekend in a medical facility at a city jail. Officials could not confirm that.