AUSTIN, Texas – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ legal team inadvertently sent opposing lawyers two years worth of his text messages, according to statements made in court Wednesday.
The development happened before a jury began deliberating how much money Jones should pay for defaming the family of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones told the court Wednesday he now understands it was irresponsible to call the attack a hoax.
Jones testified Wednesday he believes the massacre was “100% real.” The admission from the Infowars host was one of many remarkable developments in court Wednesday.
Jones attempted to sway a jury that will determine how much he and his media company, Free Speech Systems, owe for defaming the family of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 attack, which left 20 students and six educators dead in Newtown, Connecticut.
Jones has been accused of perjuring himself under oath several times this week, including once by the judge, and was confronted in open court Wednesday by a lawyer for Jesse Lewis’ family with an extensive copy of his cell phone records — evidence that was apparently accidentally sent to them by Jones’ attorneys.
The stunning moment appeared to even take Jones by surprise when he was shown copies of his own text messages by Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the boy’s parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin.
“Your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone, with everything text message you’ve sent for the past two years,” Bankston says in court Wednesday in a moment that has now gone viral on social media.
“That is how I know you lied to me when you said you did not have text messages about Sandy Hook,” he continued. Jones pushed back, saying he was being truthful and the accusation from Bankston was a “Perry Mason moment,” alluding to a fictional defense attorney character.
While Jones chalked it up to proof that he had complied with a court order to turn over information, Bankston said the evidence shows that Jones was untruthful about his text messages during the discovery period of the trial and potentially committed perjury.
“My lawyers sent it to you but I’m hiding, okay,” Jones said, before the judge warned both Jones and Bankston to simply answer and ask questions.
The revelations Wednesday came one day after Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they’ve endured after the death of their son because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms.
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In a gripping exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away.
At one point, Lewis asked Jones: “Do you think I’m an actor?”
“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones responded before the judge admonished him to be quiet until called to testify.
Heslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole through his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 Infowars broadcast that said Heslin didn’t hold his son.
Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that an apology wouldn’t suffice and that Jones needed to be held accountable for repeatedly spreading falsehoods about the attack, which was the deadliest school shooting in American history. They are seeking at least $150 million from the trial, which is in its second week.
During closing arguments, Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal said the plaintiffs didn’t prove that Jones’ actions and words caused actual harm, and that the trial lacked evidence of the harassment, anguish and character defamation that the parents claimed. He asked the jurors to award the parents $8 — one dollar for each of the compensation charges they are considering.
“Alex Jones may not be to our particular taste, but millions of Americans tune in to be informed, to be entertained, to have their voices heard,” Reynal said. “Speak the truth in your verdict. For them. And for all Americans.”
Jones was the only person who testified in his own defense. His attorney asked him if he now understands it was “absolutely irresponsible” to push the false claims that the massacre didn’t happen and no one died.
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Jones said he does, but added, “They (the media) won’t let me take it back.”
Jones — who has portrayed the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights — told the jury that any compensation above $2 million “will sink us,” but added: “I think it’s appropriate for whatever you decide what you want to do.”
But Bankston, during a withering cross-examination, showed the court an email from an Infowars business officer informing Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year. Jones said that was the company’s best day in sales.
It came after Jones claimed, “I don’t use email.”
Bankston said Jones hadn’t complied with court orders to provide text messages and emails for pretrial evidence gathering. Jones told the court he may have “dictated that” email.
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Throughout questioning, Jones acknowledged his history of raising conspiracy claims regarding other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.
Bankston went after Jones’ credibility, showing an Infowars video clip from last week when a host — not Jones — claimed the trial was rigged and featured a photo of the judge in flames. Then came another clip of Jones asking if the jury was selected from a group of people “who don’t know what planet” they live on. Jones said he didn’t mean that part literally.
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On Tuesday, Jones was scolded by the judge for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath, telling the jury he had complied with pretrial evidence gathering even though he didn’t and that he is bankrupt, which has not been determined. The plaintiffs’ attorneys were furious about Jones mentioning he is bankrupt, which they worry will taint the jury’s decisions about damages.
“This is not your show,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs do not make something true. You are under oath.”
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Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control.
At stake in the Texas trial is how much Jones will pay. The jurors will consider damages in two phases. Once they determine whether Jones should pay the parents compensation for defamation and emotional distress, they must then decide if he must also pay punitive damages. That portion will involve a separate mini-trial involving Jones and financial experts testifying about his and his company’s net worth.
Jones has already tried to protect Free Speech Systems financially. The company, which is Infowars’ parent company, filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to protect millions owned by Jones and his family through shell entities.
Contributing: Associated Press