A caseload swap has led to the judge overseeing George Zimmerman's trial for the death of Trayvon Martin will also hear his defamation lawsuit against NBC.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, Judge Debra S. Nelson will hear Zimmerman's suit against NBC Universal Media LLC after switching cases with Judge Marlene Alva, effective Jan. 2. At that point, Nelson will mostly handle civil lawsuits, with one exception being Zimmerman's trial for shooting and killing 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Florida, in February.
Zimmerman's case is scheduled to go to trial in June. He has said he killed Martin in self-defense, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, after the teenager attacked him.
The switch also means Alva will inherit Nelson's docket of criminal cases, including a perjury trial for Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, who is accused of lying about the $135,000 in private donations the couple had accrued online. She allegedly told her husband's attorney, Mark O'Mara, that she did not know of any assets she could "liquidate reasonably" to pay George Zimmerman's original bail, yet bank documents revealed that she had transferred tens of thousands of dollars from his bank account into hers.
George Zimmerman's suit against NBC Universal and three editors and reporters accuses them of using Martin's death as "an opportunity to increase ratings." Earlier this week, his brother told Univision News the coverage was played up as a racial narrative whitewashing the family's Peruvian background.
O'Mara told the newspaper he did not see any conflict caused by Nelson taking on both cases.