Oprah invites fellow jurors to come on her show

Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, may only have been paid $17.20 (£9.40) a day for her recent stint as a juror but she plans to cash in on the experience by featuring it on her show next week.

Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, may only have been paid $17.20 (£9.40) a day for her recent stint as a juror but she plans to cash in on the experience by featuring it on her show next week.

Ms Winfrey, a billionaire, was one of 12 jurors who convicted a Chicago man of murder on Wednesday following a three-day trial in Cook County, Illinois. Next week some of those jurors will appear on the show with her. In case anyone might have thought Ms Winfrey was trivialising the affair, she assured a mass of reporters outside the court that she had taken it very seriously.

"It was an eye-opener for all of us," she said. "It's a huge reality check; there's a whole other world going on out there. When your life intersects with others in this way, it is forever changed." She added: "The bigger story here is that a man is dead, murdered, supposedly over $50, and that the real war is still going on in the inner-city streets every day. Young black men killing each other. It was one of the saddest, saddest experiences I've ever had."

Ms Winfrey, who initially opposed going on the jury because she believed she was too opinionated, said the media attention surrounding the trial had been unhelpful.

Reporters paid great attention to her every move in the court, down to such fascinating details as what Ms Winfrey ate for lunch on Wednesday.

"This is not good for the victim's family. This is not about Oprah Winfrey. The fact is, a man has been murdered," she said, without explaining how next week's show will help the family. Other jurors, meanwhile, were delighted to have been sharing the jury bench with the television star. "It was a lot of fun," said Suzanne Goodman, who has agreed to appear in the special feature next week. "It was like being on her show."

One person who will not be participating in the show is the defendant, Dion Coleman, 27. Ms Winfrey and the other jurors took just two hours to find him guilty of first-degree murder. He is due to be sentenced next month and faces up to 45 years in jail for shooting Walter Holley, 23, in February 2002.

More than a dozen reporters and sketch artists filled the seats in the cramped courtroom. Ms Winfrey called all the attention distracting.

Some had argued that Ms Winfrey's fame made her an unsuitable juror. However, "she was accepted by both parties and we want fair, intelligent jurors on a jury whether it's Ms Winfrey or anyone else," said the prosecutor Kathy Van Kampen.

The defence lawyer, Cynthia Brown, said that she had thought Ms Winfrey would be a good juror because she had been a lawsuit defendant - in a 1998 defamation case brought by Texas cattlemen - and might better understand what it was like to be accused of something. The Texas farmers accused her of making false statements about the risks of BSE on her show. A jury exonerated Ms Winfrey.

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