May 06, 2007 05:30 AM

Emotions flared at the Paris Hilton hearing on Friday, according to one eyewitness observer with an exceptionally good view: Mona Shafer Edwards, a freelance courtroom sketch artist with 25 years’ experience.

Observing the Hilton family’s reaction before and after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer sentenced the 26-year-old hotel heiress to 45 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation, Edwards tells PEOPLE that while prosecutors were delivering their final statements, Hilton looked down discreetly into her purse at a compact and checked her makeup.

Minutes before the sentence was handed down, according to Edwards, Hilton made the sign of the cross with her right hand, then kissed her fingers.

Judge Sauer was particularly stern with his comments to Hilton, whom, he said, “disregarded everything” by repeatedly driving with a suspended license.

After the general public had cleared the courtroom, Hilton began to tear up. Sheriffs brought her a box of Kleenex, and she held a wad of tissues to her face as she placed her head down.

Then, said Edwards, Hilton’s mother, Kathy Hilton, angrily burst from the courtroom seating area toward the attorneys’ table, saying loudly, “I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this.”

She went over to her daughter’s side, standing over her and putting her arm around Paris as others crowded around her.

Eventually, Paris stood and was hugged by her father, Rick Hilton, who said, “I can’t believe this, either.”

“I don’t know what happened,” said Paris. “I did what they said.”

Kathy Hilton, red in the face, then walked up to one of the prosecutors and screamed, “You’re pathetic.” She then asked sarcastically, “Can I have your autograph?”

The prosecutor to whom Hilton had delivered her outburst completely ignored her, said Edwards.

About half a dozen sheriffs’ deputies then approached Kathy Hilton, who screamed at them, “Don’t you touch me, don’t you touch me.”

As the family was about to exit the courtroom, said Edwards, Kathy Hilton declared for all to hear, “[The judge] made up his mind before he even came in today. If it were anyone else, this would’ve never had happened.”

She then exclaimed, “And after all the money we spent!”

Hilton’s attorney, Howard Weitzman, vows to appeal the sentence, while Judge Sauer has ordered The Simple Life star to begin serving her time at the Century Regional Detention Center before June 5.

On Saturday, a despondent-looking Hilton was seen leaving a chauffeur-driven SUV and stepping into the Beverly Hills restaurant Prego for lunch, reports the New York Post.

Like other celebrity Los Angeles County inmates who have been incarcerated in the jail, Hilton will be separated from the general population for her own safety, the Associated Press reports. (Among previous names to have served there is former Lost star Michelle Rodriguez, whose 60-day sentence for violating probation terms after her drunken driving arrest in Hawaii ended after barely more than four hours, due to the jail’s being overcrowded.)

Each day, the incarcerated are permitted outside their cells for an hour to shower, watch TV in the day room, participate in outdoor activities or talk on the phone. (Cell phones are not allowed in the jail cells.)

As for food, inmates are offered three-poultry-based low-sodium meals a day. The jail’s overseer calls it “a very nice place.”

You May Like

EDIT POST