It was a meeting of screen names at a local restaurant Friday night as those who participated in WCTV's live on-line streaming of the Gary Michael Hilton trial met face to face.
"My screen name is lwatts"
Only a few of these people actually knew each other before meeting and say connecting through a murder trial chat room has brought a sense of community.
Lorettta Mayfield or "lmayfield" says, "Being a witness in the trial is very emotional and very scary. You know talking to people on line had given me some kind of comfort that there are still people in this world who are good people."
More than 600 viewers at a time gathered to watch and weigh in on the proceedings daily.
"8:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening. From the first day Friday to up until today," says Linda Watts or lwatts of her time spent on line.
Around 15 people met , some of them never even knew Dunlap, but say the very public trial made it easy to connect to her story and be a part of the trial without really being in the courtroom.
Brandee Mcauley, the celebration organizer and avid chat room participant says, "we communicated about meeting at least once a month, possibly creating a fundraiser for her sons if they decide to attend college."
Everyone who met says they feel a sense of community and they will remember this forever. The group plans to come together more in the future to do all they can to keep the memory of Cheryl Dunlap alive and help raise funds for her sons college. Everyone plans to continue to watch the live streaming of the trial until a sentence for Hilton is been reached.
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