| TAMPA, Fla., June 19
TAMPA, Fla., June 19 A Florida judge heard
arguments on Thursday about whether to dismiss a lawsuit brought
by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder last year after
shooting an unarmed black teenager, in which he accuses NBC
Universal of falsely portraying him as racist.
Judge Debra Nelson, who also presided over Zimmerman's trial
for the murder of Trayvon Martin, did not make a final decision
in the libel lawsuit and plans to do more research, according to
a spokeswoman for Seminole County Circuit Court.
She threw out allegations relating to one of the several
news broadcasts in question, saying Zimmerman had not properly
notified the defendants in that specific case before filing his
Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer at the
time, claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot 17-year-old
Martin in February 2012 as the teenager walked back to the house
where he was staying. His acquittal last year prompted civil
rights rallies and drew international attention to the state's
controversial 'stand your ground' law.
In the lawsuit, filed before his acquittal, Zimmerman said
NBC intentionally edited and repeatedly aired a phone call he
made to police before he shot and killed Martin "to create the
myth" that he was a racist.
The edited audio was broadcast on the network's flagship
"Today" morning show in the spring of 2012 and on a Miami
affiliate station, and made it appear that Zimmerman told police
that Martin was black without being asked.
In fact, the full tape reveals that Zimmerman only did so in
response to a dispatcher's question.
The network apologized to its viewers in a statement, and
fired at least two NBC news employees.
"We appreciated the opportunity, at the outset of the case,
to present our arguments at today's hearing why it should not
proceed further," the network said in a statement on Thursday.
Zimmerman's attorney could not immediately be reached for
comment. Zimmerman is asking for an undisclosed amount in
NBC News is part of NBC Universal Media, a unit of Comcast
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Jonathan Allen and