The Oregon woman who doused her own face in acid and went on a shopping spree with the donations intended for her recovery pleaded not guilty today to theft charges.
Bethany Storro appeared in a Vancouver courtroom flanked police and court officers. She was dressed in a blue shirt, black pants and flip flops, but the focus of her appearance was her mutilated face, marred by large and bright red scars. She was charged during the brief hearing with three counts of second degree theft.
It was the 28-year-old's first public appearance since she held a press conference from her hospital when her head was fully bandaged and she described a bogus attack on her.
Storro's lawyer, Andrew Wheeler, entered the not guilty plea on behalf of his client. He reminded the judge that Storro is partially deaf because of a childhood illnes, but that she can read lips.
When asked by Judge John F. Nichols if that was her plea, Storro responded in a strong voice, "Yes."
Storro will be processed at Clark County Jail and released to continue rehabilitation at her home. If convicted, she could face up to five months in jail for the jaw-dropping hoax. Her father has promised that the money will be returned.
Storro's trial is set to begin on Dec. 20.
Storro was once believed to be the victim of a crime after she told authorities in August that a black woman had had splashed her face with acid.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner said the full psychological effects of what she did to herself may not hit until much later.
"She's going to realize that she mutilated herself in a very severe way," Welner told "Good Morning America" today. "The burden is powerful."
But as her story began to unravel, Storro confessed to police that there hadn't been an attack -- that she'd put the acid on her own face, first to kill herself, then to cause injuries so severe it would warrant surgery to give her a new face.
Welner said he wasn't buying the story that Storro had wanted to kill herself.
"If she wanted to kill herself, she could have drunk a small quantity," he told "GMA." "She was planning for tomorrow."
Welner, who is not treating Storro, said it seemed as if the woman was suffering from a severe form of body dysmorphic disorder in which patients perceive they have flaws that others don't see.
"For them to disfigure themselves is very rare," he said. "I'd want to know what is her expectation of how severe these burns would be."
Investigators found that Storro had paid a $620 bill for a chemical facial peel last month with some of the $20,000 the community had donated for her recovery. The police report said Storro had spent about $1,500 purchasing clothes, train tickets, a computer and dinners for her parents.
"Any money will be returned in the appropriate manner. That will be guaranteed," Peter Neuwalt said after his daughter came forward to admit the hoax days after she canceled an appearance on "Oprah."
According to court documents, Storro abandoned the thought of suicide as she dabbed the acid on her face.
"When I realized it wasn't killing me, I thought maybe this was the answer to all my problems," she said in her statement to police, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by ABC News. "To have a completely different face."