Benjamin Reeves | February 27 2013 11:32 EST
The legal team for NBC Universal Media LLC responded Tuesday to a defamation suit filed by George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Zimmerman filed the suit against NBC alleging that NBC employees irresponsibly edited television pieces about Zimmerman and the Trayvon Martin killing in such a way as to paint Zimmerman as a racist.
Zimmerman sued NBC over five stories the network aired shortly after the killing of Trayvon Martin. According to Zimmerman's allegations, the clips included a call made by Zimmerman to dispatchers and were edited to make it sound as if Zimmerman was racist or saying Martin was suspicious because he was black. In actual fact, Zimmerman only mentioned Martin's race after the dispatcher asked him, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Two reporters from the local NBC affiliate responsible for the stories have been fired, and the network, through its legal representatives, denies that there are any grounds for a defamation suit. NBC has asked that circuit court judge Debra S. Nelson put a hold on the defamation suit until the second degree murder trial is completed. Nelson is presiding in both matters, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"While there is no legitimate basis for Zimmerman's claims against these defendants, who fairly and accurately reported about a news event that has captivated the nation, now is simply not the time to litigate them," Gregg D. Thomas, an attorney hired by NBC Universal, wrote in legal pleadings to the court Tuesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Thomas entered two pleadings with the court on behalf of NBC, totaling more than 100 pages, according to Orlando Sentinel reporter Rene Stutzman. The law firm has not made any public statements about suit filed by Zimmerman.