The woman seen comforting Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother in court as the teenager sobbed on the stand during his high-profile murder trial is O.J. Simpson’s former jury consultant.
Jo-Ellan Dimitrius has been working with Rittenhouse’s defense team as he stands trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin for killing two men and injuring a third during last year’s unrest in the city, Law&Crime reports.
Dimitrius, whose services can include jury selection and monitoring jurors during the trial, was pictured in court on Wednesday with her arm around Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, as the 18-year-old testified in his own defense.
As Rittenhouse broke down recounting how he feared for his life when he shot three men the night of Aug. 25, 2020, Dimitrius could be seen consoling his mom and whispering in her ear.
The jury consultant has also been spotted speaking repeatedly to defense attorney Mark Richards in the courtroom throughout the proceedings.
Dimitrius, who has worked as a trial consultant for 30 years, helped O.J Simpson’s Dream Team pick the “perfect juror” during his 1995 murder trial.
She told “Inside Edition” in 2016 that she had told Simpson’s defense team the perfect juror for his trial was “a female African-American with high school education or less.”
Dimitrius then observed the jury – made up of eight black women, one black man, one Hispanic man and two white women – to see how they reacted to witnesses, and would provide advice to the defense on their line of questioning.
In Rittenhouse’s trial, 20 jurors were selected: 11 women and nine men – eight of whom are alternates. There is reportedly only one person of color on Rittenhouse’s jury.
The teen’s lawyers demanded a mistrial on Wednesday over what they argued were out-of-bounds questions that the prosecutor directed toward Rittenhouse during his testimony.
Rittenhouse had earlier told jurors that he tried to get away from his pursuers the night he shot the three men, killing two of them, saying he never wanted to kill anyone: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.”
He faces six criminal charges, including intentional homicide and attempted homicide.
Experts have said the decision to put Rittenhouse on the stand could be a win for the defense because his explosive testimony could score sympathy from jurors.
Wisconsin-based criminal attorney Tim O’Brien told The Post that putting Rittenhouse on the stand represents an opportunity for the defense to show Rittenhouse in a sympathetic light to jurors.
“You always want to try to humanize your client in order to get it away from him being a defendant, and instead to show that he was just a scared young man,” O’Brien said.
“You want the jury to think of him as a person with a name, a family. The difficulty is sometimes a defendant can turn on the tears and it could come off disingenuous. But usually, if there is true emotion, it could have a huge effect on the jury.”