Witness questioned about Jones criticism of Sandy Hook trial
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is on trial in Connecticut for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre a hoax, continued Friday to describe the proceedings as a “kangaroo court” from his Infowars studio in Texas.
Jones’ commentary became a focus of testimony on the fourth day of the trial, with a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families questioning a corporate representative for Jones’ Infowars brand about how seriously the company was taking the trial.
The lawyer, Christopher Mattei, showed the jury a photo he said was of an Infowars webpage, depicting the judge in the trial with lasers shooting out of her eyes.
“On a scale of one to 10, how seriously is Infowars taking this trial,” Mattei asked the corporate representative, Brittany Paz.
“Ten. It’s serious to me,” Paz responded.
The exchange occurred as Jones prepares to attend the trial in Waterbury next week and the judge, Barbara Bellis, considers a request by the families’ lawyers to limit what Jones and his lawyer can say and argue in court. Jones is expected to testify,, but it’s not clear yet when.
“They are pretending to the world that it’s an actual trial, but I’m guilty when I get there and I can’t say I’m innocent,” Jones said on his Infowars web show Friday. “Everybody fundamentally knows that’s a fraud.”
He has previously said the judges’ default rulings against him — finding him liable without trials — were unfair and suggested they were part of a conspiracy to put him out of business and silence him.
Jones and his Free Speech Systems company are on trial in a lawsuit brought by an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and relatives of eight of the 20 first-graders and six educators killed in the December 2012 massacre in Newtown. They say Jones inflicted emotional and psychological harm on them, and they have been threatened and harassed by Jones’ followers.
Jones has already been found liable for spreading the myth that the shooting never happened, and the six-member jury will be deciding how much he and his company should pay the plaintiffs in damages.
In a motion filed Thursday, the families’ lawyers asked Bellis for several limitations on what Jones and his lawyer, Norman Pattis, can say and argue at the trial, including barring them from alleging that holding Jones and Free Speech Systems accountable for their actions offends the First Amendment.
Pattis outlined Jones’ defense in a motion filed Friday in response to the families’ motion.
“The defendants have argued, and intend to argue, that the plaintiffs have motives, biases and interest in exaggerating their claims against the defendants, to wit: their interest in gun control regulation and their hostility to Mr. Jones,” Pattis wrote.
Pattis also said Jones is challenging the amount of any damages to be awarded and is focusing on the families’ motives for “overstating their damages: to wit: their desire to silence Alex Jones not just because he harmed them, but because they find his politics and political affiliations repugnant.”
Pattis added, “Mr. Jones’ conspiracy theory may by offensive to some, and ridiculous to others, but he has not gained millions of listeners by compelling people to tune in. He speaks a language that many Americans seem prepared to accept.”
Mattei has showed the jury evidence that Jones’ viewership and sales of products such as nutritional supplements and clothing on his website soared around the times he talked about the Sandy Hook shooting, suggesting Jones was profiting off the shooting.
Pattis countered in court Friday that the jury should be allowed to hear that Jones believes there is a conspiracy to take guns away and enslave people.
“They have put before this jury the theory that Jones merchandizes fear for the sake of making a buck,” Pattis said. “Our claim is that he recognizes the fear of the people and makes a dollar to support that premise.”
Last month, a jury in Texas awarded the parents of one of the slain Sandy Hook children nearly $50 million in a similar lawsuit against Jones and his company over the hoax claims. Jones also faces a third trial in Texas later this year over how much he should pay the parents of another child killed in the shooting.
The Connecticut trial is expected to resume Tuesday with the judge indicating she will decide then whether to further limit what the defense may argue when it comes to the worth of Jones’ holdings.
Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this story from Connecticut