As billionaire talk show host–and juror–Oprah Winfrey scribbled notes and listened to testimony in the murder trial of Dion Coleman, a media frenzy took over a Chicago court building, says the Chicago Tribune. Photographers and camera crews from local and national media outlets patrolled the lobby, while reporters crowded the gallery of the second-floor courtroom. The reporters–along with three courtroom sketch artists drawing depictions of Oprah watching witnesses–pushed the families of Coleman, 27, and murder victim Walter Holley, 23, to the gallery’s corners. When Winfrey and the other jurors were dismissed for the day, reporters followed.
The Tribune says that some of the testimony proved to be too gruesome for Winfrey. As she sat in what’s become her regular seat–the third from the right in the front row–Winfrey watched sobbing family members leave the gallery as a medical examiner showed postmortem photos of Holley. Winfrey looked away from the autopsy photos. Winfrey’s presence could be a benefit to the trial, despite the media onslaught, said Michael Connolly, a partner for the Boston-based firm Mintz Levin, which has tried cases with prominent people serving as jurors. “Most jurors, you know very little about,” Connolly said. “You know the general background information they give. With [Winfrey], you know that she’s intelligent, she asks poignant questions for a living, and she’s used to listening to all different types of people from different walks of life. “So someone like her could be a very good juror. And I think that’s why neither side wanted to get rid of her.”