Alex Jones testifies in libel trial that Sandy Hook massacre was “100% real”

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones He testified Wednesday that he now understands that it was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real.”

Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the 2012 attack testified Suffering, death threats and harassment They endured because of Jones’ trumpeting on his media platforms, the InfoWars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks the attack happened.

“Especially because I met the parents. It’s 100% true,” Jones said at his hearing to determine how much he and his media company Free Speech Systems owe for defaming Neil Hesslin and Scarlett Lewis. Their son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 students and six educators killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, the worst school shooting in US history.

Alex Jones walks into the courtroom
Alex Jones enters the courtroom in front of Scarlett Lewis and Neal Heslin, parents of 6-year-old Sand Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, at the Travis County Courthouse on July 28, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Brianna Sanchez/Pool

But Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that an apology was not enough and that Jones should be held accountable for repeatedly spreading false information about the attack. They are seeking at least $150 million.

Testimony in the second week of the trial ended at noon Wednesday.

During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal said the plaintiffs had not proven his client’s actions and words caused actual harm to Heslin and Lewis. He said it was reasonable to assume that someone else had “weaponized” what Jones had said about Sandy Hook and “convinced them that Alex Jones was responsible for their misery.”

Only Jones testified in his own defense. His lawyer asked him if he now understood that it was “absolutely irresponsible” to make false claims that no massacre had taken place and that no one had died.

Jones said, but added that “they (the media) won’t let me take it back.”

He complained that he was “typecast as someone who runs around talking about Sandy Hook, who makes money off of Sandy Hook, who is obsessed with Sandy Hook.”

Under cross-examination by attorney Mark Bankston, Jones admitted to a history of making conspiracy claims related to other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.

Bankston went after Jones’ credibility, showing an Infowars video clip last week in which he — not Jones — said the trial was rigged and featured a photo of the judge in flames. Another clip comes in which Jones asks if the jury is chosen from a group of people who “don’t know what planet” they live on. Jones said he didn’t actually say that part.

Bankston said Jones did not comply with court orders to provide text messages and emails to gather pre-trial evidence. Jones said, “I don’t use email,” and was then shown one collected from another source that came from his email address. He replied: “I should have dictated it.”

At one point, Bankston told Jones that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the last two years’ worth of texts from Jones’ cellphone.

The attorney also showed the court an email telling Jones that the company had grossed $800,000 in sales of its products in one day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year. Jones said the company had its best day in sales.

Jones’ testimony came a day after Hesslin and Lewis told a courtroom in Austin, where Jones and his companies are based, that Jones and the false hoax claims he and Infowars made their careers. “Living Hell” of Death ThreatsOnline abuse and harassment.

They led into a day of impeachment testimony Tuesday, in which the judge chided Jones for not being truthful in some of what he said under oath.

In the grappling exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting 10 feet away. Earlier that day, Jones told his audience on his broadcast that Heslin was “slow” and was being manipulated by bad guys.

“I’m a mother first and I know you’re a father. My son was,” Lewis told Jones. “I’m not in a deep state… I know you know that… and yet you’re going to walk out of this courtroom and repeat it on your show.”

At one point, Lewis asked Jones: “Do you think I’m an actor?”

“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” replied Jones, who was instructed by the judge to remain silent until called to testify.

Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits alleging that Jones’s Sandy Hook hoax claims led to years of abuse by him and his followers.

“What has been said about me and Sandy Hook resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I realized how dangerous it was.”

Jones skipped Hesslin’s testimony Tuesday morning while she was on the show — dismissing Hesslin as “cowardice” — but came to the courtroom for part of Scarlett Lewis’ testimony. He was accompanied by several private guards.

“Today is very important to me. It’s been a long time since I faced Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” Heslin said in Jones’ absence.

Hesslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole in his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key piece of the case was a 2017 InfoWars broadcast that claimed Heslin did not have custody of her son.

In 2017, Hesslin went on television, telling CBS News, To address the Sandy Hook deniers directly. “I lost my son, I buried my son, I put a bullet in my son’s head,” he said.

After that, the harassment got worse, Heslin said.

“I have received many death threats” Heslin told CBS News in 2018. “People say, ‘You must have a bullet in your head.'”

The jury was shown a school picture of a smiling Jesse taken two weeks before he was killed. The parents didn’t get the photo until the shoot was over. They recounted how Jesse became known to classmates as “Odu.” Could have saved lives.

Jones later took the stand Tuesday and initially clashed with the judge, who asked him to answer a question from his own attorney. Jones testified that he had long wanted to apologize to the plaintiffs.

Later, the judge sent the jury out of the room and scolded Jones for telling the jury he was bankrupt, even though he hadn’t. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were furious about the reference to Jones being bankrupt, which they worry could taint the jury’s findings on damages.

“This is not your show,” Judge Maya Guerra told Gamble Jones. “Your beliefs don’t make anything true. You made an oath.”

Last September, a judge admonished Jones in his default judgment for failing to return documents requested by the Sandy Hook families. A court in Connecticut entered a similar default judgment against Jones for similar reasons in a separate case brought by other Sandy Hook parents.

How much Jones will pay is at stake in the investigation. The parents have asked the jury to award $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury will consider whether Jones and his company should pay punitive damages.

Jones told the jury that compensation of more than $2 million would “overwhelm us,” but added: “I think it’s appropriate however you decide what you want to do.”

Jones has already tried to financially protect free speech organizations. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. The Sandy Hook families have sued Jones separately, arguing that the company is trying to protect millions owned by Jones and his family through shell companies.

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