After a disastrous first day on the stand, Alex Jones skipped out on testifying Friday in his Connecticut defamation trial and headed back to Texas—but not before launching into a frenzied diatribe outside the courthouse about the “rigged” proceedings.
On Thursday, things derailed almost immediately after the right-wing conspiracy theorist began his testimony, with Jones’ antics at one point leading Judge Barbara Bellis to ask his lawyer if he needed to be physically restrained from speaking. During his testimony, Jones called the opposing lawyers “ambulance chasers,” and suggested one of them was part of a “mafia” family that controls Connecticut.
“Is this a struggle session, are we in China?” Jones erupted at one point. “I’ve already said sorry hundreds of times, and I am done saying I am sorry.”
A six-person jury will determine how much Jones owes the eight families and one retired FBI agent who sued him after they say they were bombarded with death threats and unrelenting abuse from followers of the conspiracy theorist, who dismissed the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting as a hoax. The 20 children and six teachers who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school were nothing more than “crisis actors” being used by the government to gin up support for stricter gun laws, Jones insisted at the time.
Last month, in a related trial, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of Jesse Lewis, a 6-year-old boy who died in the Sandy Hook massacre.
“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,” Lewis’ father, Neil Heslin, said on the stand.
In court on Friday morning, Jones’ lawyer Norm Pattis told Bellis he would not be putting his client back on the stand today in an attempt to “lower the temperature.” Instead, Jones will come back next week, Pattis said.
Outside, where Jones was—obviously—not under oath, he held a different type of court before a clutch of reporters.
“Everything I’m saying here, I’m barred from saying in there,” Jones ranted, calling the proceedings a “show trial” that wouldn’t be out of place in North Korea. (In reality, Bellis prohibited Jones from saying certain things about the financial state of his immensely popular Infowars webcast, since he refused to participate in the discovery process.)
“Basically it would be like a boxing match where one guy has his arms tied behind his back and a gag in his mouth,” Jones claimed, falsely. “So this is totally rigged. It’s an absolute, total fraud.”
Continuing his open-air harangue, Jones accused Chris Mattei, the lawyer representing the eight Sandy Hook families and retired FBI agent William Aldenberg, of having gotten “completely out of control [on Thursday], trying to piss me off, trying to get me out of control.” He claimed Mattei was hoping for a “big cry-fest going in there, because they want to suck money out of people.”
Jones, whose net worth is estimated at some $270 million, then cried poverty, insisting that the millions his company generates don’t trickle back down to him.
“The good news is, I don't have hardly any money, despite what they lie about the press, OK?” Jones rasped. “You know, we might have gross sales of $6 million a year. But then I have all this crew and all this advertising, all the legal fees, and I get paid a couple million dollars a year after I pay taxes. After I pay for everything else, I am almost completely out of money. So, it's a joke. I’m in bankruptcy.”
He claimed that people are “hungry for real independent analysis and commentary and opinion,” comparing himself to mainstream talk radio hosts like Don Imus and Howard Stern.
“But instead, I’m a populist, conservative, nationalist patriot Christian,” Jones said.
Before making a hasty exit, Jones bellowed, “They want your free speech. They want your guns. They want your whole world. They want your whole life. But at the end of the day, America is waking up to them and the deep state… All right, guys—Infowars.com.”
Back inside, Mattei told Bellis that Jones had been holding an impromptu press conference during which he urged jurors to independently research the facts of the case before them. This, of course, contravenes the rules of the court. The court clerk told Bellis that four of the six jurors had left the building during the recess. Bellis was concerned they could have overheard Jones’ unhinged soliloquy, but the clerk believed they didn’t exit through the front, where Jones was.
In Jones’ defense, Pattis told Bellis that Jones was not under a gag order, and that he went off because the press never gives him a fair shake.
When Bellis brought the jury back into the courtroom, she told them to ignore Jones’ request that they do their own research.
“You do need to follow my instructions, and I’m very confident that you will,” she said before dismissing them for the weekend.
Following Jones’ courtroom outbursts on Thursday, Bellis said from the bench that she would begin enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy with contempt charges for violators.
“He is just not able to control himself in any way,” Jones’ ex-wife Kelly told The Daily Beast earlier this month. “He is not a person who has any awareness, like you and I do… The jury trial Alex is facing while he engages in behaviors to con his audience to send him more money will be his day of reckoning.”
Proceedings will resume on Tuesday.
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