Martha Stewart Asks to Begin Prison Sentence as Soon as Possible

Martha Stewart (search) announced Wednesday that she had decided to surrender for prison as soon as possible, citing the need "to put this nightmare behind me."

Stewart's announcement came at a Manhattan news conference with lawyers and executives of her company. The 63-year-old Stewart will do five months in a federal prison — likely getting out early next year — followed by five months of house arrest.

The millionaire businesswoman was sentenced in July after she was convicted of lying about why she sold ImClone Systems Inc. (IMCL) stock in 2001.

"I hope that my time goes as fast as that," said Stewart, who grew uncharacteristically emotional at the end. "I want to reclaim my good life and good works and allow others to do the same."

"I would like to be back as early in March as possible to plant a spring garden and to truly get things growing again," she said, adding that she would miss her pets, including two dogs and seven cats.

"I'll see you next year."

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) shares rose 41 cents, or 3.68 percent, to $11.55 on the New York Stock Exchange (search) on Wednesday.

Stewart had said she hoped to serve her time at a minimum-security facility in Danbury, Conn., close to her home in Westport.

Immediately after her March conviction, though, a more combative Stewart had promised a battle to prove her innocence.

"I will appeal the verdict and continue to fight to clear my name," she said in a statement. "I believe in the fairness of the judicial system and remain confident that I will ultimately prevail."

Stewart also said in July that was considering serving her sentence just to put the matter behind her and her company. The news conference was held in the offices of the media company, and Stewart was accompanied by her appeals lawyer, Walter Dellinger.

A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan said she had no information on what Stewart was planning to do.

Stewart and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic (search), were convicted in March. He received the identical sentence of five months in prison and five months of house arrest.

Stewart resigned as CEO of the company when she was indicted and gave up her seat on the board after she was convicted. She remains its leading creative force and holds the title of founding editorial director.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.