Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones bulled through the first of several trials against him that could decimate his personal fortune and media empire in his usual way: Loud, aggressive and talking about conspiracies both in and out the courtroom.
It’s business as usual for the gravelly voiced, barrel-chested Jones. But by courtroom standards, his erratic and, at times, disrespectful behavior is unusual — and potentially complicated for the legal process.
Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, were ordered Thursday to pay $4.11 million in compensatory damages to the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was killed with 19 other first graders and six educators in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. And significantly more could be on the way.
Although the more-than $4 million was significantly less than the $150 million in damages Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis are seeking, the jury meets again Friday to hear about Jones’ finances before deciding on punitive damages.
Jones faces two more Sandy Hook trials to determine damages later this year: One for 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 push of false claims that the shooting was a hoax or staged made the last decade a “living hell’ of death threats, online abuse and unrelenting trauma inflicted by Jones and his followers.
After years of false hoax claims, Jones admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook hands with the parents.
But the bombastic version of Jones was always lurking under the surface, or even on full display away from the courthouse.
During a break on the first day, he held an impromptu news conference just a few feet from the courtroom doors, declaring the proceedings a “kangaroo court” and “show trial” railroading his fight for free speech under the First Amendment. On the first day, he arrived at the courthouse with “Save the 1st” written on silver tape over his mouth.
When he came to the courthouse, it was always with a security detail of three or four guards. Jones, who wasn’t 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 pulled from a group of people who “don’t know what planet they live on.”