For a man so angry about being thrown in front of ‘kangaroo court’, Alex Jones seems to be doing his best to poke fun at the ongoing libel suit brought against him by Sandy Hook’s parents.
The final afternoon of scheduled testimony in Jones’ two-week trial got off to a rocky start on Tuesday, with the judge presiding over Austin’s case reprimanding the notorious conspiracy theorist as he appeared to be chewing on something in court.
“Spit out your gum, Mr. Jones,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said, ogling Jones grimly from behind the bench.
“It’s not gum”, the far-right broadcaster immediately retorted. Jones claimed he had a tooth pulled last month and was massaging the hole in his mouth with his tongue.
“Do you want me to show you? he asked, leaning down.
“…I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth,” Gamble said, urging her to “sit down.”
The terse exchange came after a morning of moving testimony from plaintiff Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook massacre victim Jesse Lewis. Heslin and Lewis’ mother, Scarlett Lewis, is seeking at least $150 million from Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, in compensatory damages. (Free Speech Systems filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week, according to the Austin American Statesmanalthough this should not impact the trial.)
The parents argue in their 2018 lawsuit that Jones baselessly claimed the massacre was a government-orchestrated hoax, dragging them — and other Sandy Hook families — through years of harassment and pain.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the hell that I and others have had to endure because of Alex Jones’ recklessness and negligence,” Heslin said.
Jones was not present in court during Heslin’s testimony, the Associated Press reported. Heslin criticized her absence, calling her “cowardly”.
“Today is very important to me and it took a long time… to stand up to Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” a- he declared.
Jones went so far as to shoot the families from afar, calling them ‘pawns’ in an episode of his Infowars show that aired on Tuesday, according to Media matters to America. He claimed Heslin had autism, saying he thought the father acted “like someone on the spectrum.”
Later in the episode, an aggrieved Jones lambasted Gamble and the attorneys representing Lewis’ parents, calling them “caricatures of what you would imagine in an alternate universe of dwarven goblins”.
“It’s demonic,” he said. added. “They all act like demon possessed. The judge, the lawyers. It’s surreal to be around them. And it makes you feel sorry for them because these people are attached to the occult ideology of the new world order.
Footage of the episode was presented by the prosecution in court later the same day, while Scarlett Lewis was on the stand. When asked how the clip made her feel, she looked up at Jones, who had arrived at the Texas courthouse at the time.
” It’s horrible. Horrible. Horrible,” she said, according to the Independent.
Jones, who tried to frame the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights, showed up at the courthouse after the morning session. A piece of tape covering his mouth had the phrase “Save the 1st” pasted over it.
To reporters outside, Jones raged at Judge Gamble, accusing him of rigging the trial. “All I did was speculate and ask questions – I have every right to do that,” he fumed.
Later Tuesday, Jones himself took the stand. Asked by his lawyer F. Andino Reynal how he felt, he replied: “Actually, I feel good. Because I get the chance, for the first time, to say what’s really going on instead of the powerful corporate media law firms manipulating what I actually did.
The only witness for the defense, Jones almost immediately disagreed with Gamble once again, complaining that Lewis had been allowed to “monologue”, and he was not.
Jones’ testimony, which lasted over an hour, was frequently punctuated by bouts of coughing which he attributed to a “torn larynx”. The cough got so bad that Gamble finally gave her a lozenge. He thanked her.
“This is the exception to food in the courtroom [rule]said Gamble, with a weak laugh.
Following further questioning from Reynal, Jones was quick to assert that he “never intentionally tried to hurt” Lewis and Heslin. He also jumped at the chance to challenge Infowars’ introduction of the clip, protesting that it was “not fair” that the footage was cut to less than a minute.
Reynal, who would be the eleventh attorney to officially represent Jones in the case, had to rein in his client as he strayed dangerously from tinfoil hat territory. “Let’s slow down a bit,” the attorney said, after Jones testified that he viewed his work as a way to reveal “the matrix” to his audience.
(Reynal himself was reprimanded by Gamble several times during the trial, including at least twice for chewing gum in his courtroom, according to a Texas monthly journalist. In another case, he had to apologize after using middle finger to keep Mark Bankston, a prosecution attorney, out of Gamble’s sight.)
Jones also found time to claim on the stand that he hadn’t had an email address for the past decade – a claim that is undermined by a March hearing in which a document from discovery was produced to contradict it. Under oath, he also told the court that he was bankrupt, which he is not.
Bankston interrupted the proceedings at this point to ask to be heard without the presence of the jury. With the panel out of the room, the prosecutor raised concerns that Reynal was intentionally soliciting false testimony from Jones on the stand.
The bet was okay. “It seems absurd to tell you again that you must tell the truth when you testify, but here I am: you must tell the truth when you testify. It’s not your show,” she told Jones.
She continued to berate him, saying, “You abuse my tolerance and aside the jury inappropriately, and in at least two cases falsely.”
“I believe what I said was true,” Jones replied.
“You believe everything you say is true,” Gamble said. “That doesn’t make it true.”
After Gamble dismissed the jury for the day, Scarlett Lewis approached Jones to hand her a bottle of water. He shook her hand and that of Neil Heslin, who was following behind. In the slightly garbled audio of the live trial, Jones appeared to apologize “for today.” He proceeded to tell Heslin, “I think people were – a lot of things you said were manipulated –” when Bankston, the prosecutor, intervened.
“That’s it. We’re not talking to you. And you’re not doing that,” he said.
“Why? So you can’t give them fake videos anymore?” Jones asked. When told to shut up, he continued, “That’s what you’re trying to do, shut my mouth. You will never succeed.
Someone in the courtroom – it was unclear from the video feed – then brought up Jones’ claim that Heslin had autism. “Hey, I think I’m autistic too, mate,” Jones snapped at the plaintiffs as they walked out of the courtroom.
He will return to the stand on Wednesday morning.