Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was already in a mountain of legal trouble after he was found liable in Connecticut and Texas last fall for defaming families of victims who were killed in 2012’s Sandy Hook mass shooting—which Jones had repeatedly called a hoax on his far-right platform InfoWars.
But those troubles grew on Wednesday after a bombshell allegation by the victims’ families’ lawyer suggested Jones may have lied on the stand. (Jones denied lying.)
Jones repeatedly said on InfoWars that he believed the Sandy Hook massacre—which left 20 elementary school children and six adults dead in the deadliest school shooting in history—was a hoax. He and his media company Free Speech Systems, are now embroiled in a series of defamation lawsuits from victims’ families, who allege that Jones’ statements led to them facing death threats and intense harassment.
The current lawsuit was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse Lewis died in the Sandy Hook attack. Jones has already been found liable, and now a jury will determine how much he must pay the family in damages. The families are seeking $150 million from Jones and his media company, which has filed for bankruptcy.
Throughout the legal proceedings Jones’ brand of misinformation that thrived on the internet has broken down. On Wednesday, Jones said he now believes that the Sandy Hook attack was “100% real” and it was irresponsible for him to have said otherwise. (Jones’ lawyer and the families’ lawyer did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.) The statement came after Lewis and Heslin’s gut-wrenching testimony on Tuesday as they described how Jones had negatively impacted their lives. Heslin told the jury that he couldn’t “even begin to describe the last nine-and-a-half years of hell” they had experienced as they were repeatedly confronted by people who believed Jones’ conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was fake. “My life has been threatened,” Heslin said. “I fear for my life. I fear for my safety and my family’ safety and their life.”
Jones had previously testified that he had complied with the discovery process and searched for any messages on his phone he could provide in which Sandy Hook was discussed, but found none.
On Wednesday, Mark Bankston, the attorney for the families, disagreed—and brought receipts. “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 two years?” said Bankston. “That is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have text messages about Sandy Hook.”
“No I didn’t know this happened, but I told you I gave the phone over,” Jones responded, clearly shocked. “This is your Perry Mason moment.”
“In discovery, you were asked if you had Sandy Hook text messages on your phone, and you said, ‘No.’ Correct?” Bankston asked. “If I was mistaken, I was mistaken. You’ve got the text messages right there,” responded Jones.
“You know what perjury is, right?” Bankston asked. “Yes I do,” said Jones. “I’m not a tech guy. I told you in my testimony I gave my phone to the lawyers.”
It remains unclear how the revelation will impact Jones’ damages trial, or if he could face new lawsuits or potential criminal liability.
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