August 19, 2004 08:25 AM

Oprah Winfrey held court in Chicago Wednesday after a jury on which she served convicted a man of murder.

“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,” Winfrey, flanked by other jurors, said outside the courtroom as she was surrounded by TV cameras, lights and army of journalists.

The 12 jury members deliberated for more than two hours before convicting 27-year-old Dion Coleman of first-degree murder in the February 2002 shooting death of 23-year-old Walter Holley. Prosecutors said Coleman shot his victim twice in a fight over a fake $50 bill.

Coleman is scheduled to be sentenced next month and could face 45 years to life in prison, the Associated Press reports.

“The bitter story here for me is that a man is dead for $50,” said Winfrey, 50, who called the trial “one of the saddest experiences of my life.”

The billionaire media mogul, who was paid $17.20 a day for her civic duty, said she plans to do a show about the trial next week with other jurors, though she said all the press attention during her jury service was distracting.

“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.

Still, it was a treat to have a celebrity on the panel, said juror Suzanne Goodman, of Arlington Heights, Ill.

“It was a lot of fun, it was like being on her show,” said Goodman.

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