Amid a Texas trial dealing with the level of financial penalties to impose on far-right conspiracy-monger Alex Jones in connection to the impact on particular parents from lies he told about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Jones repeatedly lied on the stand.
The parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose young son Jesse was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, are seeking $150 million. They’ve faced harassment and threats on their life in connection to Jones’s lies; people believed what he said about the supposedly staged nature of the Sandy Hook incident, and extremism-minded followers of his sought to take action. During testimony in the trial, Heslin spoke of repeated in-person confrontations with those evidently of the delusional belief he and Lewis are acting. It’s not difficult to imagine how someone disconnected from reality to the point of harboring such a belief could quickly make such a confrontation dangerous. “My life has been threatened,” Heslin said before jurors. “I fear for my life. I fear for my safety and my family’s safety and their life.” Heslin explained “his home and car have been shot at,” ABC summarized.
In remarks in court, Jones said “the internet had a lot of questions” regarding what happened at Sandy Hook, and he said he “tried to find out what actually happened.” That’s obviously a ridiculous, humiliating excuse for a defense. The internet has “questions” about whether Elvis Presley is really dead and — if you go to certain corners of it — whether the Holocaust even happened. Jones also brought up claims about his net worth during testimony, in what could no doubt easily be seen as an attempt to get jurors to lessen their imagined possibilities for the dollar amount of damages — but Jones wasn’t supposed to discuss his net worth while delivering that testimony. Mark Bankston, who’s representing Heslin and Lewis, indicated after jurors left following Tuesday’s proceedings where Jones made these remarks that he’d be filing a motion for sanctions against Jones and the conspiracy theorist’s attorney.
As Bankston put it to Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, discussing the remarks about net worth: “Mr. Jones just intentionally did that in violation of your order, to attempt to poison this compensatory damage verdict, to try to tell this jury that he’s broke, and he’s not, and that’s in violation of your order.” Gamble responded to the issue in part by addressing Jones as follows: “Mr. Jones, you may not say to this jury that you complied with discovery. That is not true. You may not say it again. You may not tell this jury that you are bankrupt. That is also not true… You are already under oath to tell the truth… You’ve already violated that oath twice today, in just those two examples. It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth while you testify. Yet here I am again… This is not your show.”
After a defense from Jones, the judge added: “You believe everything you say is true, but your beliefs do not make something true… Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true. It does not protect you. It is not allowed. You’re under oath. That means things must actually be true when you say them.” There are two additional trials on the horizon, including one in Connecticut, dealing with the imposition of financial penalties on Jones in connection to lies he told about Sandy Hook. However, a recent bankruptcy filing for what’s apparently Jones’s main company, Free Speech Systems, could derail those proceedings. Jury selection for the Connecticut case began this week but was subsequently suspended in connection to bankruptcy-related legal machinations from Jones’s side.