For a man so up in arms about being thrust in front of a “kangaroo court,” Alex Jones appears to be trying his hardest to make a mockery of the ongoing defamation suit brought against him by Sandy Hook 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 the Austin case reprimanding the notorious conspiracy theorist as he appeared to chew something in court.
“Spit your gum out, Mr. Jones,” said Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, eyeing Jones grimly from behind the bench.
“It’s not gum,” the far-right broadcaster retorted immediately. Jones claimed that he’d had a tooth pulled late last month and that he was massaging the hole in his mouth with his tongue.
“Would you like me to show ya?” he asked, leaning in.
“... I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth,” Gamble said, admonishing him to “sit down.”
The terse exchange came after a morning of emotional testimony from plaintiff Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook massacre victim Jesse Lewis. Heslin and Lewis’ mother, Scarlett Lewis, are 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-Statesman, though this is not expected to impact the trial.)
The parents contend in their 2018 lawsuit that Jones baselessly claimed the massacre was a hoax orchestrated by the government, 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 living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.
Jones was not present in court during Heslin’s testimony, the Associated Press reported. Heslin criticized his absence, calling it “cowardly.”
“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long time coming... to face Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore the honor and legacy of my son,” he said.
Jones went so far as to take potshots at the families from afar, calling them “pawns” in an episode of his Infowars show that aired Tuesday, according to Media Matters for America. He claimed that Heslin was autistic, saying he thought the father was acting “like somebody on the spectrum.”
Later in the episode, an aggrieved Jones blasted Gamble and the lawyers representing Lewis’ parents, calling them “caricatures of what you would imagine in some alternate universe of dwarf goblins.”
“It’s demonic,” he added. “They all act demonically possessed. The judge, the lawyers. It’s surreal to be around them. And it makes you feel sorry for them because these people are committed to occult ideology of the new world order.”
Footage from the episode was introduced by the prosecution in court later that same day, while Scarlett Lewis was on the stand. Asked how the clip made her feel, she leveled her gaze at Jones, who had arrived at the Texas courthouse at that point.
“It’s horrific. Horrific. Horrific,” she said, according to the Independent.
Jones, who has attempted to spin the complaint against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights, had rolled up to the courthouse after the morning session. A piece of duct tape covering his mouth had the phrase “Save the 1st” plastered across it.
To reporters outside, Jones raged against Judge Gamble, accusing her rigging the trial. “All I did was speculate and ask questions—I have a right to do that,” he fumed.
Later on Tuesday, Jones himself took to the stand. Asked by his attorney F. Andino Reynal how he was feeling, he replied, “I actually feel good. Because I get a chance to—for the first time—say what’s really going on instead of the corporate media high powered law firms manipulating what I actually did.”
The defense’s only witness, Jones was almost immediately at loggerheads with Gamble once again, complaining that Lewis had been allowed “to monologue,” and he wasn’t.
Jones’ testimony, which lasted for over an hour, was frequently punctuated by bursts of coughing that he blamed on a “torn larynx.” The coughing became so bad that Gamble eventually passed him a lozenge. He thanked her.
“That’s the exception to the food in the courtroom [rule],” Gamble said, to weak laughter.
Off the back of further questions from Reynal, Jones was quick to claim that he “never intentionally tried to hurt” Lewis and Heslin. He also pounced on the opportunity to challenge the introduction of the Infowars clip, protesting that it was “not fair” that the footage had been cut down to less than a minute.
Reynal, reportedly the eleventh lawyer to formally represent Jones in the case, had to rein his client in as he swerved dangerously close to tinfoil-hat territory. “Let’s slow down a bit,” the attorney said, after Jones testified that he viewed his job as a means to reveal “the matrix” to his audience.
(Reynal himself has been rebuked by Gamble a number of times over the course of the trial, including at least twice for chewing gum in her courtroom, according to a Texas Monthly reporter. In another instance, he had to apologize after he used his middle finger to flip off Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, out of Gamble’s sight.)
Jones also found time to claim on the stand that he has not had an email address for the last decade—a claim that is undercut by a March hearing in which a discovery document was produced to contradict it. Under oath, he also told the court that he was bankrupt, which he is not.
Bankston interrupted proceedings at that point to motion to be heard outside the presence of the jury. With the panel out of the room, the prosecutor raised a concern that Reynal was intentionally soliciting false testimony from Jones on the stand.
Gamble concurred. “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. This is not your show,” she told Jones.
She continued to chide him, saying, “You are abusing my tolerance and making asides to the jury improperly, and in at least two cases untruthfully.”
“I believe what I said was true,” Jones replied.
“You believe everything you say is true,” Gamble said. “That does not make it true.”
After Gamble dismissed the jury for the day, Scarlett Lewis approached Jones to hand him a bottle of water. He shook hands with her and Neil Heslin, who trailed behind. In the slightly garbled audio of the livestreamed trial, Jones appeared to apologize “for today.” He began to tell Heslin, “I think people have been—a lot of the stuff you said has been manipulated—” when Bankston, the platinffs' lawyer, stepped in.
“That’s it. We’re not talking to you. And you’re not doing this,” he snapped. “That’s not even a thought. That’s not the way this goes.”
“Why? So you can’t feed ’em fake videos anymore?” Jones asked. When told to shut up, he continued: “That’s what you’re trying to do, shut my mouth. You’ll never succeed.”
Someone in the courtroom—it was unclear from the video feed—then brought up Jones’ claim that Heslin was autistic. “Hey, I think I’m autistic too, buddy,” Jones called at the plaintiffs as they filed out of the courtroom.
He will return to the stand on Wednesday morning.