Nearly a decade after the Sandy Hook massacre, right-wing broadcaster Alex Jones stepped onto a witness stand in Texas and spoke about the person he suggested was a victim of its fallout: himself.
“I actually feel good because I get a chance to, for the first time, say what’s really going on instead of the corporate media, high powered law firms manipulating what I actually did,” Jones said.
In Jones’s self-assessment, he was simply a man whose inquisitive musings wound up being manipulated and turned against him.
“The internet had questions,” Jones said. “I had questions.”
“Question and Answer”
In fact, Jones personally advanced conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged by crisis actors in an effort to threaten the Second Amendment right to bear arms. That falsehood sparked multiple lawsuits by parents of Sandy Hook survivors, who say he tainted the memories of their dead children and invited harassment against them from his fans.
Families in Connecticut and Texas won default judgments after Jones violated discovery rulings. The Connecticut trial will take place in September.
Two of those parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, testified against him in the Texas trial on Tuesday morning, and Jones mocked the former’s testimony on the air on his program Infowars that day.
Even before taking the stand, Jones invited the ire of Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble by chewing gum from behind the defense table and speaking in the court out of turn. Jones has scorned the proceedings — and tried to staunch the financial bleeding by preemptively filing for bankruptcy under Infowars’ corporate vehicle Free Speech Systems, LLC, in ongoing litigation.
After Heslin wept on the witness stand in remembering his dead son, Jones went on Infowars earlier on Tuesday to insult him as “slow” and “on the spectrum.” Heslin’s son, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, was among 20 of the children killed during the massacre that Jones denied existed. The mother looked upon the footage of Jones’ attacks with horror, telling the jury that the broadcast was “astounding, in a bad way.”
In 2019, Jones claimed in a deposition that he previously believed child actors staged the tragedy because he allegedly had “a form of psychosis.” Now that the remarks threaten to saddle him with massive liabilities, Jones appears to have renounced his former theories and claims that he wants to make amends.
After being asked his first question by his attorney, Jones ad-libbed on an off-topic tangent: “I do want say this on the record as I said it many times, I do apologize to both—”
Counsel for the parents objected to the belated apology, which Jones’s defense team hopes will keep the jury from awarding heavy monetary damages as a punishment.
Judge Gamble sustained the objection, reminding Jones that testimony “is not a conversation.”
“Question and answer,” the judge told Jones, reiterating the format.
“So she got to monologue about me. Got it,” Jones snapped at the judge, seemingly referring to Scarlett Lewis’s testimony.
“This Is Not Your Show”
Proceeding careened toward an abrupt end on Tuesday after Jones blurted out that he complied with discovery demands and that he is now bankrupt. Counsel for the family noted that neither statement is true — and, promising to file sanctions motions, accused Jones’s lawyer Andino Reynal of eliciting false testimony that violated court orders in an effort to “sabotage” the jury.
Reynal denied the charge, claiming that his client made the remarks unprompted.
Oral arguments over the controversy ended Tuesday’s proceedings, and the parties intend to brief the matter. But Judge Gamble rebuked Jones and instructed him that he may not misinform the jury.
“Mr. Jones, you may not say to this jury that you complied with discovery,” Gamble said. “That is not true. You may not say that again.”
She emphasized that he also may not say that he’s bankrupt, even if he filed for bankruptcy, explaining the distinction between the two.
“This is not your show,” she said.
His testimony will resume on Wednesday, likely — the judge appeared to indicate — with a curative instruction for the jury.
Update—Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:18 p.m. Eastern Time: This story now has a new headline and additional information about how Jones’s testimony ended.
(Screenshot from Law&Crime Network)
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