Apr 27, 2017

VERDICT: Ex-wife of Alex Jones wins joint custody after bitter trial

Jonathan Tilove
American-Statesman Staff
April 27, 2017

11:30 p.m. update: After nine hours of deliberation in the child custody trial involving internet broadcaster Alex Jones, a Travis County jury gave his ex-wife, Kelly Jones, a victory, awarding her joint custody with the right to have their three children make their primary residence with her instead of her husband for the first time since their 2015 divorce.

Infowars.com founder Alex Jones will share joint custody, which means that he will have visitation rights. But Kelly Jones and her lawyers want to begin the new arrangement with a period of time in which the children live exclusively with her while they adjust to the new situation, followed by increased visitation with their father.

She also wants the family involved in a program for undoing parental alienation, the phenomenon in which one parent turns the children against another parent, which she and her lawyers argued was what happened to her when the children began living with her ex-husband. She said during the trial she is thinking of writing a book about it.

“I am so grateful to God that he has kept me and my family strong through this,” Kelly Jones said after the verdict. “I just pray that from what’s happened with my family people can really understand what parental alienation syndrome is and get an awareness of it and we can stop this from happening in the future.”

When state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo read the verdict from the bench in the third-floor courtroom at the Travis County Courthouse, Kelly Jones sat quietly and dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex. Alex Jones stared at the judge. His mien was serious but he otherwise betrayed no emotion, a rarity for a man whose relentless expressiveness, even in silence, was an issue during the trial.

He had predicted during the trial that a verdict like this would lead his son to run away from home.

As the last juror left, unlocking his bicycle from a bike rack outside the courthouse for the ride home on the cooly comfortable night, he said the jurors thought both Joneses were good parents - “that’s why we deliberated so long.”

The juror, who did not identify himself, said that Infowars did not figure in the verdict.

“It was not dispositive,” he said.

10:20 update: In a stunning verdict, a Travis County jury has awarded Kelly Jones, the ex-wife of Alex Jones, joint conservatorship of their three children with the power to decide where the children will live. That means that the three children, age 9, 12 and 14, who have been living almost exclusively with Alex Jones, will now live with Kelly Jones.

Alex Jones will have visitation, but details have yet to be worked out.

Kelly Jones and her lawyers wanted a period of time in which he would have very limited if any access to the children while she starts the new routine and they make a break from what Kelly Jones’ attorneys considered the “parental alienation” of the children from their mother during the time they lived with their father.

Noon update: In his closing argument to the jury, the attorney for Kelly Jones likened Alex Jones to a “cult leader” who had brainwashed their children against her in what he described as a “straight up child abuse case” of parental alienation.

“Mr. Jones is like a cult leader,” Hoffman said. “The children appear to be cult followers, doing what daddy wants them to do.”

As Hoffman spoke, Alex Jones’ eyes narrowed and he shook his head.

“Somehow, this man has gotten away with murder,” Hoffman said. “It’s the equivalent of that and it’s wrong.”

Hoffman described Jones’ relationship with his wife during their marriage as “emotionally, sexually, physically abusive,” and yet, he said, in that and in his behavior since the divorce two years ago, “Mr. Jones has escaped detection.”

“Is it Mr. Jones’ celebrity, is it his vast wealth? How and why has Mr. Jones escaped detection?” Hoffman asked. “Please don’t let him escape detection in the jury room.”

Hoffman said that despite the fact that Jones is guilty of “spewing vile hatred” on the air, none of the health care professionals involved in the case said a word about that.

“Nobody knows how to stop this man,” said Hoffman, including, he said, Judge Orlinda Naranjo who repeatedly told Jones to stop making faces and nodding and shaking his head in reaction to testimony.

“Nobody can stop this man except the 12 of you,” Hoffman said. “You have an unbelievable amount of power.”

Earlier: Attorney Randall Wilhite said Thursday that Alex Jones’ three children are thriving living with their father and pleaded with a Travis County jury to let them stay with him.

“They are doing well, they are thriving at their father’s house,” Wilhite said in his closing argument to the jury. “Should we rip them out of that and see how they would do at their mother’s home?”

The answer he said is “no”, depicting Kelly Jones as a self-absorbed and emotionally unstable mother who has come to view every lawyer, judge and mental health professional in the case as “corrupt liars … conspiring against her.”

“Is that possible?”

Rather, he said, she was guided by “inverted logic, inverted reality.”

“It’s everybody’s fault but Ms. Jones,” Wilhite said.

Earlier: The Travis County jury in the Alex Jones-Kelly Jones child custody trial will hear closing arguments in the case this morning and then begin its deliberations.

At issue is whether to change the current arrangement in which the three children, aged 9, 12 and 14, live with their father, the Austin broadcaster with a vast Infowars radio and online following, and their mother has only very limited, supervised visitation that in the last year has amounted to as little as four hours a month.

At the trial, which enters its ninth day Thursday, Alex Jones’ lawyers have contended that the children have blossomed in the two years since the 2015 divorce settlement and to uproot them now would be counterproductive and against their wishes. They have argued that Kelly Jones has, in essence, earned her limited visitation because of her emotional instability — which they have identified as episodic “emotional dysregulation.”

But Kelly Jones’ lawyers have argued that their client has been a victim of a phenomenon known as “parental alienation,” in which one parent — in this case Alex Jones — effectively undermines the other parent by brainwashing the children into disliking and not wanting to be with the other parent. In this scenario, Kelly Jones’ emotional dysregulation is a perfectly natural response to a mother seeing her children unnaturally turned against her.

While the all the court records in the ongoing divorce and child custody case are sealed for privacy reasons, the case drew national attention because of the strategy of Jones’ lawyers, outlined at pretrial hearings, to separate Alex Jones, the parent, from Alex Jones, the bellowing, conspiracy-minded character he plays on Infowars.

But Alex Jones pushed back against any notion that he is only playing a role on the air, insisting that while he sometimes engages in humor and satire, his politics are authentic and what he really believes. But, he has said he leaves the drama at the office.

Kelly Jones, however, testified that her ex-husband is a volatile and hateful character both at work and at home, and that his home is not a healthy place for their children to be growing up.

She wants to reverse the current arrangement and have the children live with her and have Alex Jones have to earn increasing visitation time with them


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