Total damages of nearly $50 million were significantly less than the $150 million in damages Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis sought.
Jones will face two more Sandy Hook lawsuits later this year to determine the damages: one for parents of a 6-year-old boy in an Austin court and another for eight families in Connecticut.
Heslin and Lewis have testified that Jones’ constant insistence on false claims that the shooting was a hoax or staged has turned into a “living hell” of death threats, online abuse and unrelenting trauma inflicted by Jones and his followers over the past decade. has made.
After years of false hoax claims, Jones admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook the hands of the parents.
But Jones’ bombastic version was always lurking beneath the surface—or even on full display outside the courthouse.
During a break on the first day, he held an impromptu press conference just meters from the courtroom doors, declaring the proceedings a “kangaroo court” and “show trial” in which he underlined his fight for freedom of expression. First Amendment on track. On the first day, he arrived at the courthouse with “Save the 1st” written on silver tape over his mouth.
Whenever he came to the courthouse, it was always with a security detail of three or four guards. Jones, who was not in court for the verdict, often skipped testimony to appear on his daily Infowars program, where the attacks on the judge and jury continued. During one show, Jones said the jury was made up of a group of people who “don’t know what planet they live on.”
That video was shown to the jury. For example, a snapshot from his Infowars website showed Judge Maya Guerra Gamble going up in flames. She laughed at that.
Jones was only slightly less combative in court. He was the only witness to testify in his defense. Gamble warned Jones’ lawyers before it even began that if he tried to make a performance of it, she would clear the courtroom and shut down the live stream that would broadcast the trial to the world.
When Jones arrived for Lewis’ testimony, Gamble asked if he was chewing gum, a violation of a strict rule in her courtroom. She had already verbally abused his lawyer Andino Reynal several times.
That led to a lively exchange. Jones said he didn’t chew gum. Gamble said she could see his mouth moving. Jones opened wide and leaned over the defense table to show her an opening in his mouth where a tooth had been extracted. Jones insisted he only massaged the hole with his tongue.
“Don’t show me,” the judge said.
Some legal experts said they were surprised by Jones’ behavior and wondered if it was a calculated risk to increase his fan appeal.
“It’s the most bizarre behavior I’ve ever seen in a trial,” said Barry Covert, a Buffalo, New York, First Amendment attorney. “In my opinion, Jones is a money-making juggernaut — crazy as a fox,” Covert said. “The bigger the spectacle, the better.”
Kevin Goldberg, a First Amendment specialist at the Freedom Forum in Maryland, said he found it difficult to imagine what Jones might be thinking and what benefit he might gain from his behavior.
“I don’t know what it was designed for, other than that the brand is for Alex Jones,” Goldberg said. “This appears to be a man who has built his brand … on disrespecting the institutions of the government … and this court.”
Defendants on trial are often given some leeway because so much is at stake: jail time in criminal cases and, in Jones’ civil trial, possible financial ruin. Monetary sanctions or even contempt charges after the trial are also possible.
Gamble had to be careful about how she handled it all, Covert said.
“Jones’ outlandish behavior puts the judge in a very difficult box,” Covert said. “She doesn’t want to appear to put her finger on the scales of justice.”
Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony when he described to the jury that he was holding his dead son in his arms with a “bullet hole through his head.”
Heslin said he wanted to confront Jones in person and called his absence that day “cowardly.” Jones instead appeared on his daily broadcast.
Jones was in the room when Lewis took up the stands, barely ten feet away, looking straight at him.
“My son existed. I’m not a deep state, she said of the conspiracy theory of a shadowy network of federal workers who run the government.
“I know you know that,” Lewis said.
When Lewis asked Jones if he thought she was an actor, Jones replied, “No,” but was interrupted by Gamble, who scolded him for speaking out of turn.
At the end of that day, Jones and the parents shook hands. Lewis even gave Jones a sip of water to calm a lingering cough that Jones said was caused by a ruptured larynx. Her attorney Wesley Ball quickly intervened to break up with her.
“No,” Ball snapped to Jones, “you’re NOT doing this.”
Jones was the only witness in his defense. His testimony pushed court rules so often that prosecutors openly questioned whether Jones and his attorneys were trying to sabotage the proceedings and force a mistrial. They filed a motion for sanctions against them after Jones claimed he was bankrupt, which lawyers are contesting and banned in testimonies.
At one point, Jones seemed stunned when the family’s lawyers announced that Jones’ legal team had accidentally sent them two years’ worth of data from his cell phone — a massive data dump that they said should have been produced upon discovery, but didn’t. used to be. They said it proved he had received text messages and emails about Sandy Hook and his media company’s finances that he had not turned over by court order.
“This is your Perry Mason moment,” Jones snapped.
Prosecutor’s attorney Mark Bankston said Thursday that the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol uprising had requested those materials and that he intended to give them to them.
The Jan. 6 commission first subpoenaed Jones in November, demanding a statement and documents regarding his efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and a rally on the day of the attack.
During the trial, Jones often spoke out of turn and was cut off when he was caught up in conspiracies ranging from the September 11 terror attacks to a fake United Nations effort to depopulate the world. He continued to question some of the greatest events and important government institutions in American life.
“This,” the judge told him, “is not your show.”