Judge to rule whether to make 'Dateline' turn over murder suspect's interview

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Knoxville judge could try to force “Dateline NBC” to turn over an interview with the man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend and their unborn son.

Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword heard arguments Thursday to have “Dateline” release a video interview with Norman Clark that has not yet been broadcast.

Clark interviewed with the NBC show, accompanied by his former attorney, Greg Isaacs, right after his mistrial. Jurors came back hopelessly deadlocked 11-1 in favor of a “not guilty” verdict. The state is now seeking a retrial.

Prosecutors want to see what Clark said on camera. While they do not know if it would help their case, there is a possibility the information could be used during the trial, said Assistant District Attorney General Sean McDermott.

McDermott said the state would compare what Clark said on “Dateline” to the statement Clark made to Knoxville Police investigators and the statement he made in a police squad car back in 2011, after Brittany Eldridge, 25 and their unborn son “Zeke” were murdered.

Prosecutors also want to examine Clark's demeanor in the video since the case the prosecution built around Clark is entirely circumstantial.

McDermott said it was “brazen” of Clark to do an interview with national media while a trial was still in the cards. In his eight years with the District Attorney's office, McDermott said he knows of only one other defendant who went on camera while a case was still pending.

The major hold-up is Tennessee's press shield law, which protects journalists from being forced to disclose the source of any information gathered for publication or broadcast.

“Dateline” has refused to hand over the footage. The state also filed to subpoena “Dateline” correspondent Andrea Canning and producer Tim Beacham to testify, if necessary, according to McDermott.

Judge Sword is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks. If “Dateline” loses, the case could also be heard in New York, where the show is based. The state has its own shield law.