Sympathetic portrayal of Alex Jones rebuked as ‘hypocrisy’

A producer at conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ media company tried to paint a sympathetic portrait of him on Thursday as a jury decides how much in financial damages he should pay for his earlier allegations that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting it was a hoax – a move that lawyers for the parents of a child killed in the massacre were immediately rebuked as hypocrites.

Daria Karpova, producer of Jones’s Infowars website in Austin, Texas, testified that the pressure of various lawsuits and trials took a toll on Jones. He is “stressed out” and can’t relax even while on vacation as he has been constantly worried about his shows and money for the past four years since he was sued for defamation.

Karpova said some people believe Jones murdered the 20 first graders killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre, which left a total of 26 dead.

A lawyer for the parents who are suing Jones for at least $150 million for the abuse they say they suffered for years because of Jones’ false statements immediately jumped to representing an injured man struggling to deal with the lies told about him as a posture.

“When people lie about you, does it affect you negatively, affect your well-being? Do you understand the irony, the hypocrisy of making that statement in this courtroom right now?” asked Mark Bankston, attorney for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was killed at school.

“It’s just the truth,” Karpova said. “What should I say?”

Heslin and Lewis have sued Jones for emotional distress and reputational damage Jones caused them and are seeking at least $150 million from Jones and his Free Speech Systems media empire.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already held Jones liable for libel for his interpretation of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving “crisis actors” aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued sentences in absentia against Jones without trials because he did not respond to court orders and turned over documents.

In total, the families of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school are suing Jones and his company in multiple courts.

Jones has since acknowledged that the shooting took place, but insists he is not responsible for the suffering Sandy Hook’s parents say they suffered because of the false conspiracy, including death threats and harassment by Jones’ followers.

The first three days of the trial were dominated by video clips of reports by Jones and Sandy Hook on Infowars and testimonies from Karpova, who has worked on the site since 2015.

Karpova was appointed by the company to be its representative at the trial, but was unable to answer questions about the company’s revenue and its number of viewers and listeners. She also went out of her way to answer other questions about some of the video evidence she was instructed to prepare the testimony about.

In a 2017 music video presented by defense attorney Andino Reynal, Jones invited Sandy Hook’s families to join his program for an “open dialogue”

“Alex could have been an advocate for these parents, done very well to stop anyone from harassing them,” she said as Heslin and Lewis sat about 20 feet apart in the courtroom.

Karpova called the show’s reliance on Wolfgang Halbig, a Sandy Hook denier, as a frequent guest and source of information “the worst decision the company has ever made.” Several of the featured clips featured Halbig, as well as a provocative email he sent to Scarlett Lewis.

Later on Thursday, the jury watched a clip from 2017 Infowars at the center of the case: a report in which studio presenter Owen Shroyer strongly suggested that Heslin could not have held his dead son’s body as he described in a television interview.

“I’m sorry if this hurt anyone,” Shroyer said Thursday after being called as a witness. “I hope their grief can end someday.”

He then hinted that the trial itself could continue to harm families.

Jones walked in and out of the courtroom during the deposition. He had four bodyguards with him on Thursday. He tried to portray the damages trial as an attack on the First Amendment right to free speech.

He arrived in court on Tuesday with a “Save the 1st” message printed on a large piece of silver tape over that mouth. In a break during opening remarks, he held an impromptu press conference a few steps from the courtroom to call the trial a “show trial” by a “kangaroo court”.

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More on school shootings: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

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