Highlights From the Sandy Hook Defamation Case

  • A jury is deliberating how much Alex Jones owes the parents of a Sandy Hook victim for falsely claiming the shooting was a hoax.
  • The trial for damages took place over a little more than a week, in Travis County, Texas.
  • It was filled with drama, from the judge berating Jones for his courtroom antics to last-minute revelations of Jones’ phone.

A Texas jury began deliberating Wednesday to decide how much far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should have to pay for defaming the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim.

Jones had falsely and repeatedly claimed on his InfoWars website and online show that the 2012 massacre at a Connecticut elementary school was a government-orchestrated hoax.

The weeklong trial was filled with drama, with the judge berating Jones multiple times for his antics in the courtroom, and Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis — the parents suing Jones — giving emotional testimony.

Heslin and Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse, was killed in the shooting, have asked the jury to award them $150 million dollars in damages.

These are the five of the biggest moments from the trial:

Jones conceded that the Sandy Hook shooting happened

On August 3, the last day of the trial, Jones took the stand and said that the Sandy Hook shooting was real, despite telling his audience for years that it was a “giant hoax” staged by the government with “crisis actors.”

But Jones got defensive when he explained how he felt that the media hasn’t been able to accept that he’s changed his mind.

“The media still ran with lies that I was saying that it wasn’t real on air yesterday. It’s incredible. They won’t let me take it back. They just want to keep me in the position of being the Sandy Hook man,” Jones said.

Jones has continued to record his broadcast throughout the trial, and on Tuesday, insulted Heslin on air by calling him “slow,” in a clip that was later aired to the jury by Heslin’s attorney.

A Sandy Hook parent called Jones a coward for not appearing in court

Jones’ testimony came a day after Heslin took the stand and called out the InfoWars host for not even bothering to show up to this testimony.

“I think it’s disrespect. I think it’s a cowardly act of Alex Jones not facing me herein this courtroom,” Heslin said.

Jones attended the trial off and on over the seven days of testimony. His lawyer previously told the court that Jones has a “medical condition” that may prevent him from attending the trial, but the lawyer didn’t go into detail about what that condition was.

The judge repeatedly called out Jones for his courtroom antics

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, the Travis County judge presiding over the trial, called out Jones in court multiple times for his behavior.

On Tuesday, Gamble reprimanded Jones for evading answering questions by making “asides” that were not relevant.

Gamble told Jones that he was “abusing her tolerance,” after he took the stand and told the jury he was bankrupt and that he provided evidence during the discovery process. Gamble said that both of these assertions were false.

“You’re already under oath to tell the truth,” Gamble said. “You’ve already violated that oath twice today… It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth while you testify. Yet here I am.”

In another heated exchange on Tuesday, Gamble ordered Jones to spit out his gum. But Jones said he wasn’t chewing gum and explained that he had his tooth pulled last month.

“So you’re chewing on your gauze?” the judge asked.

“Would you like me to show ya?” Jones responded, trying to open his mouth to the judge.

“No, I just want you to answer my question,” Gamble said. Gamble eventually told Jones she didn’t want to “see the inside of your mouth” and ordered Jones to “sit down.”

Jones was confronted with his text messages in court

In a sudden twist in the trial on Wednesday, an attorney for the Sandy Hook parents revealed to the court that Jones’ legal team had accidentally sent him the contents of Jones’ phone — which included texts and long-hidden financial information about InfoWars.

Attorney Mark Bankston confronted Jones with a text from Jones’ phone about the shooting, which Jones had previously claimed he couldn’t find.

“This is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have text messages about Sandy Hook,” Bankston said.

Bankston also found financial information about InfoWars that painted a different picture than the more modest situation Jones testified the company is in.

The messages show that InfoWars made as much as $800,000 a day in 2018, Bankston said. Jones eventually testified that InfoWars employed 80 workers and made $70 million last year.

Jones’ lawyer made a public apology in court after flipping off competing counsel

F. Andino Reynal, the attorney representing Jones in the case, made a public apology in court on July 28, after he gave the middle finger to a lawyer representing the Sandy Hook parents the day before.

“I apologize for yesterday’s outburst,” Reynal said. “It wasn’t appropriate,”

Judge Gamble addressed the outburst at the start of the Thursday court session, saying, “Next time anyone wants to have an argument, you need to take it outside.”

Reynal and Bankston’s argument centered on video evidence in the case.

Reynal accused Bankston of showing the jury “little clips from cherry-picked videos” of InfoWars broadcasts, and that longer clips should have been played. He flipped Bankston off after the judge left the courtroom.

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