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Published: Wednesday, 6/27/2007

Paris Hilton pays her debt to society

Escorted by lawyer Richard Hutton, left, and two sheriff s
deputies, Paris Hilton leaves jail in Lynwood, Calif.
Escorted by lawyer Richard Hutton, left, and two sheriff s deputies, Paris Hilton leaves jail in Lynwood, Calif.

LYNWOOD, Calif. - It's back to the not-so-solitary-life for Paris Hilton, who walked out of jail early yesterday into a gathering of cameras and reporters, flashing a beaming smile and waving to the frenzied crowd.

The 26-year-old celebutante wrapped up her three-week stay at the all-women's jail in Lynwood about 12:15 a.m.

Hilton filed past sheriff's deputies and the media and hurried to a black sport utility vehicle where her parents, Kathy and Rick Hilton, waited. The hotel heiress hugged her mother through the SUV's window and didn't respond to reporters' questions.

"She fulfilled her debt. She was obviously in good spirits. She thanked people as she left," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Chased by photographers in the air and on the street, Hilton eventually made her way to her grandparents' home in Los Angeles' ritzy Holmby Hills area north of Sunset Boulevard.

"What I think is funny is every single news person here apologized to me," said retired attorney Martha Karsh, out for a stroll with her daughter, Katie.

"It's not real news. What's the story here?" asked Karsh, adding that she wasn't aware that any Hiltons lived in the neighborhood until TV satellite trucks and other news vehicles crammed the street.

There was little sign of activity at the house, which was shielded by wrought-iron gates, a block wall, and tall shrubs. A few people in cars drove in and out, including a young man who arrived in a red convertible, quickly punched in a code to the gate and roared up the driveway.

Just before her release, Hilton's lawyer, Richard Hutton, reportedly slipped a note to Harvey Levin, managing editor of celebrity news Web site TMZ.com, that included a penciled-sketch of Hilton in front of cell doors in the Lynwood jail.

Hilton thanked Levin for his "fair and unbiased reporting of the events in my case," according to the note posted on the Web site. It was signed "Paris Hilton" - each letter "i" dotted with a heart.

While Hilton was in custody, Levin repeatedly belittled the judge for the length of her sentence, saying anyone else would have served less time.

Hilton will complete her probation in March, 2009, as long as she keeps her driver's license current and doesn't break any laws. She can reduce that time by 12 months if she does community service that could include a public-service announcement, the city attorney's office has said.

Hilton's path to jail began Sept. 7, when she failed a sobriety test after police saw her weaving down a street in her car on what she said was a late-night run to a hamburger stand. She pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to 36 months' probation, alcohol education, and $1,500 in fines.

In the months that followed, Hilton was stopped twice by officers who discovered her driving with a suspended license. The second stop landed her in court, where Superior Court Judge Michael Sauter sentenced her to 45 days in jail. She was released after three weeks for reasons including good behavior.

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