AUSTIN, Texas — In a brutal cross-examination on Wednesday in the trial of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a lawyer for Sandy Hook parents produced text messages from Mr. Jones’s cellphone showing that he had withheld key evidence in defamation lawsuits brought by the families for lies he had spread about the 2012 school shooting.
The messages, which were apparently sent in error to the families’ lawyers by Mr. Jones’s counsel, revealed that he was also warned about posting a false report about the coronavirus by a staff member calling the potential fabrication “another Sandy Hook.”
Mr. Jones acknowledged the staff member’s concerns, but the false report remained live on his Infowars website on Wednesday.
“Do you know what perjury is?” the families’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, asked Mr. Jones, who indicated that he did.
The text messages were significant because Mr. Jones had claimed for years that he had searched his phone for texts about the Sandy Hook cases and found none.
The Sandy Hook School Massacre
Mr. Bankston, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, also revealed new evidence of Mr. Jones’s failure to produce court-ordered documents related to lies he spread about the mass shooting and its victims. He also presented financial records that contradicted Mr. Jones’s claim that he was bankrupt and clips from his broadcasts maligning the judge and jury in the case.
Mr. Jones lost four defamation cases last year that were filed against him by the families of 10 victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators.
Mr. Jones lost those cases by default, after nearly four years of litigation in which he failed to produce documents and testimony ordered by courts in Texas and Connecticut. That set in motion three trials for damages; the one in Austin this week is the first.
In testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Mr. Jones continued to insist that he had complied with court orders to produce documents and testimony in the run-up to the defamation trials. In fact, his losses by default resulted from his failure to produce those materials.
The judge admonished Mr. Jones and his lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, after the Infowars fabulist lied about the matter under oath on Tuesday. The judge also chastised Mr. Jones for telling the jury that he was bankrupt when his bankruptcy filing last week had yet to be adjudicated; the families’ lawyers said it was his latest attempt to delay the upcoming damages trials.
In court on Wednesday, Mr. Bankston produced financial records indicating that Mr. Jones was earning revenue of as much as $800,000 per day in recent years by selling diet supplements, gun paraphernalia and survivalist gear in ads accompanying his broadcasts.
Mr. Bankston also produced clips from Mr. Jones’s Infowars broadcast in which he aired a copy of a photograph of the judge in Ms. Lewis’s and Mr. Heslin’s case, Maya Guerra Gamble, engulfed in flames.
“That’s justice burning,” Mr. Jones told Mr. Bankston.
In another broadcast, Infowars falsely linked the judge to pedophilia; in another, Mr. Jones questioned the intelligence of the jurors in the case, implying that his political enemies had handpicked “blue-collar” people who were ill-equipped to decide what monetary damages he must pay Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin. In written questions submitted to Mr. Jones, jurors took immediate issue with that.
“Are you aware that this jury consists of 16 intelligent, fair-minded citizens who are not being improperly influenced in any way?” one wrote to Mr. Jones.
“I don’t think that you are operatives,” Mr. Jones replied.