By Jack Queen
(Reuters) - Here are seven moments that could shape a jury's deliberations on Thursday in a trial to decide how much U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay parents of a slain child for falsely calling the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting a hoax:
-An attorney for the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis said in an opening statement that Jones, a webcast host, led a “vile campaign of defamation” by spreading the lie the massacre of 20 children and six staff at a Connecticut school was staged.
“Mr. Jones was continually churning out this idea that Sandy Hook was fake,” Mark Bankston told jurors, saying Jones was “patient zero” for the hoax theory.
-A lawyer for Jones acknowledged during his opening statement that Infowars had spread false information and said Jones lost millions of viewers after being deplatformed on social media in 2018 because of it.
“He regrets what he did, and he’s paying a price for it,” Federico Andino Reynal said.
-Judge Maya Guerra Gamble admonished Jones for not being truthful during his testimony https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/alex-jones-expected-testify-defamation-case-over-sandy-hook-shooting-2022-08-02 when he said he was bankrupt and had complied with plaintiffs’ requests for information before the trial.
"It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth while you testify," she said. "Yet here I am."
-There were several tense exchanges between Jones and Gamble. Before jurors entered the courtroom, Gamble told Jones to spit out his gum. Jones said he wasn’t chewing gum but was massaging a hole in his mouth where he had had a tooth removed.
“Would you like me to show you?” Jones, asked, pulling open his mouth.
“I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth,” Gamble replied.
-Bankston played a video of Jones deriding the jury pool and saying it was full of people who “don’t know what planet they’re on."
“It’s a five-second clip,” Jones said. “I don’t know what you’ve cut off or on."
-Bankston showed jurors a picture posted on Infowars of Gamble superimposed over a Lady Liberty in flames. Jones disputed Bankston's characterization that the photo depicted Gamble on fire.
-In a surprise development, Bankston disclosed that the defense had inadvertently sent him a file containing two years of Jones’s texts, along with trial strategy notes and medical records.
“Did you know that 12 days ago ... your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you’ve sent for the past 2 years?” Bankston asked.
“This is your Perry Mason moment,” Jones replied.
Gamble on Thursday denied Jones's motion for a mistrial based on the disclosure.
(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)