WATERBURY, Conn. — The trial for Alex Jones continues Wednesday following remarks he made outside the courthouse Tuesday and testimony from a counter-terrorism expert.
Jones did not testify Tuesday but is expected to possibly next week.
He is expected to speak outside court at 1:30 p.m.
At this time it's unknown if Jones will appear in court Wednesday after his brief appearance Tuesday. Jones stopped outside the court on his way in to speak with reporters.
Court started later than usual, around 10:30 a.m., due to some housekeeping conversations between the judge and attorneys.
An alternate juror went to court Wednesday but had asked to step down. As a result, the judge excused them with their thanks. There are six jurors and now three alternates.
The attorneys then huddled at the judge’s desk for an inaudible sidebar. But early on in that conversation, they mention Alex Jones’ two impromptu interviews with the media outside the courthouse Tuesday.
The plaintiff’s attorney Chris Mattei called David Wheeler to the stand. His son, Benjamin, was one of the 20 students and six educators killed in the tragedy on Dec. 14, 2012.
Wheeler shared stories of studying theater, meeting his wife in the industry before changing careers, and becoming a father to Nate and Ben.
Wheeler spoke about what happened after the day of the shooting.
“To have someone publicly telling the world it didn’t happen and that you are a fraud and phony is incredibly disorienting,” Wheeler said. “You’re already fighting, and I can’t understand why anyone in the world would think that, I can’t figure it out.”
“People telling me I was going to burn in hell and I’d pay for what I’ve done,” Wheeler added. “And that continued for quite awhile.”
Before lunch, Erica Lafferty was called to the stand. Her mom was the principal of Sandy Hook, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung.
Lafferty talked about her mom earning her undergrad with two kids to raise, and how Dawn worked her way up the education ladder to become principal of Sandy Hook Elementary in 2010.
Dawn was pursuing a doctorate at the time of the 2012 tragedy.
“Her heart was with kids, always,” Lafferty said of Dawn.
After the shooting, Lafferty said she received multiple letters to her home.
When asked what they said she replied, “That I should die and be buried next to my fake dead mother.”
During the court's lunch, Alex Jones addressed the media outside of the Waterbury courthouse, where he continued to criticize the ongoing trial.
Jones criticized the trial, calling the judge a "tyrant," claiming he was simply "questioning" the tragedy in his broadcasts.
"The judiciary has been weaponized and is on trial here," Jones said outside Waterbury Superior Court. "The judge has found me guilty despite the fact we turned over all the discovery."
Jones only spent a few minutes inside the courtroom before coming back out, saying he was told to testify but then saying he was told to come back the following week.
Inside, corporate attorney for Free Speech Systems Brittany Paz finished her marathon testimony. For more than three days, she was grilled on the inner workings of Jones' company.
The high-profile trial began last week. 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.
After Paz was dismissed, a new witness took the stand for the first time since last Wednesday.
Clinton Watts is an expert in internet analysis and social media, focusing on counter-terrorism since 2002. He attended West Point and joined the armed forces before going into the FBI as a special agent in the terrorism task force after the September 11 attacks.
With his military and FBI background, Watts was tasked to track how Al Qaeda recruited members on social media and the internet and more recently, how Russia was interfering with information about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Watts also founded Miburo, a cyber threat analysis and research company recently acquired by Microsoft.
Watts went over the importance of the volume of content a producer makes and the reach it can get from an audience, as well as the amount of time it takes to influence the audience.
He also went over the two generations of the internet; the 1990s to mid-2000s era where users would "pull" content by going directly to a website, and the current generation in which people can still pull, but social media allows individuals and organizations to "push" content onto others.
Watts then looked at year-to-year data for InfoWars.com pre-Sandy Hook.
In 2012, InfoWars.com saw an "extremely large" audience, which grew in 2013 “a sizeable increase over 50%” for total sessions, Watts said.
The court revisited the video Jones made just hours after tragedy hit Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, saying that "they" are after people's guns.
Using data his team could gather, Watts concluded that the minimum outreach for Alex Jones' Sandy Hook lies across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter between 2012 and 2018 was an audience of 550 million.
Jones is expected to be in Connecticut from Tuesday to Thursday.
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.
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