The total damage of nearly $50 million was significantly less than the $150 million in damages Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis were seeking.
Jones faces two more Sandy Hook lawsuits later this year to determine damages: one for the 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 foray into false claims that the shooting was a hoax or staged has made the past decade a “hell on earth” of death threats, online abuse and unrelenting trauma suffered by Jones and his supporters were added.
After years of making false hoax claims, Jones admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook hands with his parents.
But the bombastic version of Jones has always lurked 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, in which he described the trial as a “kangaroo court” and a “show trial” in which he explained his fight for freedom of expression pursued the First Amendment. On the first day, he arrived at the courthouse with “Save the 1st” written on the silver tape.
Whenever he came into the courthouse, he always walked 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.”
This clip was shown to the jury. Such was a snap from his Infowars website that set Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ablaze. She laughed at that.
Jones was only slightly less combative in court. He was the only witness who testified in his defense. Gamble warned Jones’ attorneys before it even began that if he tried to make a performance of it, she would vacate the courtroom and end the livestream broadcasting the trial to the world.
When Jones came to Lewis’ testimony, Gamble asked if he chewed gum, violating a strict rule in their courtroom. She had insulted his lawyer Andino Reynal several times.
This led to an irritated exchange. Jones said he doesn’t chew 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 a tooth had been pulled. Jones insisted he only massaged the hole with his tongue.
“Don’t show me,” said the judge.
Some legal experts said they were surprised by Jones’ behavior and questioned whether increasing his appeal to fans was a calculated risk.
“This is the most bizarre behavior I’ve ever seen at a trial,” said Barry Covert, a First Amendment attorney from Buffalo, New York. “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 had a hard time imagining what Jones might be thinking and what benefit he might get from his behavior.
“I don’t know what it aims to achieve other than as a brand for Alex Jones,” Goldberg said. “This appears to be a man who built his brand … on disregard for the institutions of government … and this court.”
Defendants in court are often given some leeway because so much is at stake – imprisonment in criminal cases and potential financial ruin in Jones’ civil case. Fines or even post-trial contribution charges are also possible.
Gamble had to be careful how she handled it all, Covert said.
“Jones’ bizarre behavior puts the judge in a very difficult position,” Covert said. “She doesn’t want to appear to put her finger on the scales of justice.”
Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony as he described for the jury how he held his dead son in his arms with a “bullet hole through the head.”
Heslin said he wanted to confront Jones face-to-face and called his absence that day “cowardly”. Jones appeared on his daily show instead.
Jones was in the room when Lewis took the stand and was sitting barely ten feet away when she looked directly at him.
“My son existed. I’m not “deep state,” she said of the conspiracy theory of a shadowy network of federal employees running the government.
“I know you know that,” Lewis said.
When Lewis Jones asked if he thought she was an actress, 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 ease a persistent cough that Jones said was caused by a torn larynx. Her attorney, Wesley Ball, quickly stepped in to dissolve it.
“No,” Ball snapped at Jones, “you do NOT.”
Jones was the only witness in his defense. His testimony has shifted the rules of the court so many times that plaintiffs have openly questioned whether Jones and his attorneys were attempting to sabotage proceedings and force a trial. They filed a motion for sanctions against them after Jones claimed he was bankrupt, which lawyers dispute and were banned from giving testimony.
At one point, Jones seemed stunned when family lawyers revealed that Jones’ legal team had mistakenly sent them two years of data from his cell phone — a huge data dump they said should have been produced upon discovery, but wasn’t was. They said it proved he received text messages and emails about Sandy Hook and his media company’s finances, which he failed to turn over under a court order.
“This is your Perry Mason moment,” Jones snapped.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Bankston, said Thursday that the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot in the US Capitol requested those materials and that he intends to give them to them.
The January 6 committee first summoned Jones in November, demanding testimony and documents related 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 of turn and was cut off as he veered into conspiracies ranging from the staged 9/11 terrorist attacks to a sham United Nations effort to counter global depopulation. He continued to question some of the biggest events and significant governmental institutions in American life.
“That,” the judge told him, “is not your show.”