The total damages of about $50 million were far less than the $150 million in damages Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis were seeking.
Jones faces two more Sandy Hook damages trials later this year: one for the parents of a 6-year-old in Austin courthouse, and the other for eight families in Connecticut.
Heslin and Lewis testified that Jones’ constant push for false claims that the shootings were a hoax or orchestrated has made the past decade a “living hell” of online death threats and abuse and the constant trauma that Jones and his followers have caused.
After years of false false allegations, Jones admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook hands with the parents.
But Jones’ stylized version has always lurked beneath the surface – or even on display far from the courtroom.
During a break on the first day, he held an impromptu press conference a few meters from the courtroom doors, declaring the proceedings a “kangaroo court” and a “show trial” in his fight for freedom of speech under the First Amendment. On the first day, he arrived at the courtroom with “Save the 1st” written on a silver ribbon in his mouth.
When he got to the courtroom, he was always escorted by three or four guards. Jones, who was not in court for sentencing, often skipped testimony to appear on his daily Infowars, as attacks on the judge and jury continued. During one performance, Jones said the jury was drawn from a group of people “who don’t know which planet they live on.”
This clip was shown to the jury. This was a screenshot from Infowars showing Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in flames. I laughed at that.
Jones was less combative on the court. He was the only witness who witnessed his defense. Gamble warned Jones’ attorney before she even started that if he tried to turn it into a show, she would clear the courtroom and shut down the live broadcast broadcasting the trial to the world.
When Jones arrived to testify for Lewis, Gamble asked if he was chewing gum, a violation of a strict rule in the courtroom. I’ve scolded his lawyer Andino Renal several times already.
This led to a sharp exchange. Jones said he wasn’t chewing gum. Gamble said she could see his mouth moving. Jones opened wide and leaned over the defense table to show her a gap in his mouth where one of his teeth had been pulled out. Jones insisted he was just massaging the hole with his tongue.
“Don’t see me,” said the judge.
Some legal experts said they were surprised by Jones’ behavior and questioned whether boosting his appeal to audiences represented a calculated risk.
“It’s the most bizarre behavior I’ve seen at the trial,” said Barry Coffert, a First Amendment attorney in Buffalo, New York. “In my opinion, Jones is a juggernaut to make money — crazy as a fox,” Covert said. “The bigger the scene, the better.”
Kevin Goldberg, a Maryland-based First Amendment specialist at Freedom Forum, said he found it hard to imagine what Jones might think and what benefit he might reap from his behavior.
“I don’t know what it was designed to accomplish other than to be on the Alex Jones brand,” Goldberg said. “It appears that this is a man who has built his brand… on disrespect for the institutions of government… and this court.”
Defendants at trial are often given some leeway because they have so much at stake – imprisonment in criminal cases, and in Jones’ civil trial, potential financial ruin. Financial penalties or even post-trial contempt charges are also a possibility.
Covert said Gamble had to be careful with how she handled everything.
“Jones’ strange behavior puts the judge in a very difficult box,” Covert said. “She does not want to appear as if she is putting her finger on the scales of justice.”
Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony when he described to the jury carrying his dead son in his arms as “a bullet hole in his head.”
Heslin said he wanted to meet Jones head-on and described his absence that day as “a coward.” Instead, Jones was appearing on his daily broadcast.
Jones was in the room when Lewis took the platform, sitting barely 10 feet (3 meters) away and she looked directly at him.
“My son is there. I am not a ‘deep state,’” she said of the conspiracy theory of a shadowy network of federal workers running the government.
“I know you know that,” Lewis said.
When asked by Lewis Jones if he thought she was an actress, Jones replied, “No,” but Gamble cut him off, who berated him for speaking him away from the role.
At the end of that day, Jones and the parents shook hands. Lewis even gave Jones a sip of water to help calm a persistent cough that Jones said was caused by a tear in his larynx. Soon, her lawyer, Wesley Poole, intervened to disperse her.
“No,” he picked up the ball at Jones, “you don’t do this.”
Jones was the only witness in his defense. His testimony prompted court rules so often that prosecutors openly questioned whether Jones and his attorneys were trying to sabotage the proceedings and force a false trial. They filed for penalties after Jones claimed he was bankrupt, which lawyers opposed and was outside the scope of testimony.
At one point, Jones seemed surprised when the family’s lawyers announced that Jones’ legal team had mistakenly sent them the equivalent of two years of data from his mobile phone – a huge data warehouse they said should have been produced by discovery but wasn’t. They said it proves that he was receiving texts and emails about Sandy Hook and the finances of his media company which he did not turn over under court orders.
“This is Perry Mason’s moment,” Jones said.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Bankston, said Thursday that the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 mutiny in the U.S. Capitol requested the materials and that he intends to turn them over to them.
The January 6 commission first summoned Jones in November, requesting an affidavit and documents relating to 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 about his role, and was interrupted when he veered into plots, ranging from the orchestrated September 11 terrorist attacks to mock United Nations efforts to depopulate the world. He continued to question some of the biggest events and important government institutions in American life.
The judge told him, “This is not your offer.”