After nine hours of deliberation, a Travis County jury in the Alex Jones-Kelly Jones child custody trial gave Kelly Jones a great 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 the couple’s 2015 divorce.
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 will 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 Alex Jones. 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 happend 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 Thursday night from the bench in the third-floor courtroom at the Travis County Court, 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,” he said.
The juror, who did not identify himself, said that Infowars did not figure in the verdict.
“It was not dispositive,” he said.
The jury began deliberations after returning from lunch at 12:30 p.m.
At stake was whether the three Jones’ children, ages 9, 12 and 14, would continue to live with Alex Jones, the provocative broadcaster whose Infowars show has made him currently the most influential conspiracy theorist, or live instead with his ex-wife, who described him on the stand as a “violent, cruel and abusive man” who is “enraged and out of control most of the time.”
In his closing argument Thursday, Kelly Jones’ attorney Robert Hoffman argued that she was the victim of parental alienation with Alex Jones brainwashing their children to align with him and turn against her.
“Mr. Jones is like a cult leader; the children appear to be cult followers, doing what Daddy wants them to do,” said Hoffman.
“Nobody knows how to stop this man,” Hoffman told the jury, and that, he said, included Judge Orlinda Naranjo, who throughout the trial repeatedly told Alex 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.”
But Alex Jones’ lawyers depicted Kelly Jones as emotionally unstable, self-absorbed and paranoid.
Randall Wilhite, representing Alex Jones, said Kelly Jones came to view a legion of mental health professionals in the case — and even her former attorney — as “conspiring against her.”
David Minton, another of Alex Jones’ lawyers, said Kelly Jones’ mantra was “they all got it wrong.”
“They didn’t all get it wrong,” Minton said in his closing. “They are not all bought and paid for. They are not corrupt.”
But as he finished, Minton struck a rare, conciliatory note in the contentious nine-day trial, saying that while Kelly Jones wasn’t yet ready to see her children on a more regular basis, she was on her way there.
“She is working hard to get better. I applaud her. Mr. Jones applauds her,” Minton said. “He is going to help her make herself a better mom.”
“As she gets better and better, that access will get better and better,” Minton said. “That’s how it works.”
Kelly Jones’ lawyers said she now sees her children as little as four hours a month.
The case stood out mostly because of the celebrity of Alex Jones and the question of whether he would have to distance himself from his Infowars’ persona to convince a jury that he was a suitable custodial parent to his children. But, as best she could, Naranjo kept the testimony from veering into Infowars territory.
Nonetheless, despite a gag order not to talk about the case, Jones continued to post videos on Infowars during the trial attacking the media for pushing the narrative — based on his lawyers’ strategy revealed at a pretrial hearing — that he was only playing a role on the air.
Yes, he sometimes engages in satire, Jones insisted, but his on-air politics are genuine.
In court, he and his lawyers simply contended that he didn’t bring his often angry, raging on-air personality home with him and into his parenting.
But Kelly Jones testified that he was the same “volatile,” “hateful,” personality on the air and at home. Hoffman said in his closing argument that Alex Jones was making his children into “foot soldiers” for Infowars.
“I submit these kids are in serious emotional, psychological and physical danger,” Hoffman
The trial also became a high-profile test of parental alienation as an argument in a child custody case.
The difficulty in presenting the argument before a jury is that, as Kelly Jones’ lawyers noted, it is counterintuitive because the children’s preference for one parent over the other might actually be an indication not of the preferred parent’s merits, but proof that the child has been brainwashed by the parent in charge.
Alex Jones’ lawyers went first in presenting their case and through most of the trial, the jurors were left with the impression that Kelly Jones was an emotional mess, subject to episodes of “emotional dysfunction” in which her responses were uncontrollable and disproportionate to the circumstances. It was used to explain why the children lived with Alex Jones since even before the 2015 divorce was finalized and why Kelly Jones now had such limited access to her children.
But when her lawyers got to present their case this week, they created a picture of a woman prone to anxiety who was driven to emotional dysfunction by the threat of losing her children.