WATERBURY, Conn. — Alex Jones’s first day of testimony at a damages trial after years of lying about the Sandy Hook shooting ended in chaos.
Confronted on Thursday with the damage he had caused by repeatedly lying on his radio show and online Infowars that Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie was killed in the massacre, was an actor, Jones erupted in a tirade that drew a threat of contempt from the police. Judge Barbara. Bellis of the State Superior Court.
“Is this a wrestling session? Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry, and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones replied, as his attorney shouted objections.
Jones was provoked by Chris Mattei, an attorney for the families of the Sandy Hook victims, who pointed out Parker in the courtroom as he questioned Jones on the stand. “Robbie Parker is sitting here,” Mattei said. “He’s real, isn’t he? And for years you put a target on his back, right? Just like you did with all the parents and loved ones sitting here.”
“No, I didn’t,” Mr. Jones said.
“Why don’t you show a little respect, Mr. Jones?” Mr. Mattei said. “There are families in this courtroom here who have lost children, sisters, wives, mothers.”
Understand the cases against Alex Jones
A united front. Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist, is the focus of a long-running legal battle waged by the families of the victims of a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. Here’s what He must know:
Judge Bellis reprimanded Mr. Jones. “This is not a press conference, this is clearly not his program,” he said. “You have to respect the process.”
At the end of the day, after the jury had left, he warned Mr. Jones, as well as his attorney, Norm Pattis, that he would enforce a zero-tolerance policy on Friday for ignoring his courtroom decorum orders. . Mr. Pattis had repeatedly objected to the client’s yelling at him.
“You can expect a contempt hearing if someone steps out of line,” Judge Bellis said. “And Mr. Jones, the same.”
For years, Mr. Jones spread lies on Infowars that December 1st. The Jan. 14, 2012, shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a government pretext for gun control. Late last year, Jones lost four separate defamation lawsuits brought by the families of 10 Sandy Hook victims, who had endured years of online torment and threats from conspiracy theorists who believed Jones’ false claims.
The families’ landslide victory set off three trials for juries to decide how much Mr. Jones should pay the families in punitive and compensatory damages.
In the first trial, a jury in Austin, Texas, awarded Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, parents of Jesse Lewis, who died in Sandy Hook, nearly $50 million in August, but Texas law limits that verdict to much less.
In the current trial, the second of three, the families of eight Sandy Hook victims sued Mr. Jones in Connecticut, where state law allows for a potentially ruinous financial verdict. The families say they sued Mr. Jones to account for the online abuse, confrontation and death threats they received from people who believed their Sandy Hook lies.
Mr. Jones’s effort to defend himself Thursday was marked by violations of the judge’s order that prohibited mentions of partisan politics or politicians.
As Mr. Jones’s testimony progressed, he attempted to cast the trial in political terms, saying that the most important thing for him is to “crush the globalists.” On other occasions, he manifested little knowledge of the attacks on the families, the trial and the judge that he and other Infowars staff members had carried out on their show, and said that he did not remember things he had said as recently as the previous day.
Mr. Mattei noted that Mr. Jones had given press conferences outside the courthouse, watched the trial online, and smeared him on his show as a “kangaroo court.” He has also created a “kangaroo court” website to encourage viewers to financially support his legal defense.
At one point, Mr. Mattei began a question to Mr. Jones by saying, “There’s going to be another mass shooting, isn’t there?”
Mr. Jones interrupted him. “Are you saying I’m going to shoot people?” he he replied. “As if it was my fault, people think I killed the children. And that’s my answer to you.”
Mr. Jones’s testimony will resume on Friday.