Austin, Texas – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified Wednesday that he now realizes he was irresponsible in calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% true.”
A day after the 2012 The parents of the 6-year-old boy who died in the attack testified about the anguish, death threats and harassment they suffered because of what Jones trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host said. in a Texas courtroom that he truly believes the attack happened.
“Especially since I got to know my parents. It’s 100% true,” Jones said during a trial to determine how much he and his media company Free Speech Systems owe for defamation by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis. Their son, Jesse Lewis, was among 20 students and six teachers killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, the deadliest school shooting in American history.
But Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that an apology would not be enough and that Jones must be held accountable for his continued lies about the attack. They are seeking at least $150 million in the lawsuit, which was set up to determine how much Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, must pay for defamation by Heslin and Lewis.
Jones, who portrayed the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights, told the jury that any award above $2 million would “sink” us, but added, “I think that’s up to you to decide whatever you want.” to do .
Testimony in the trial, now in its second week, concluded around noon on Wednesday.
During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, said the plaintiffs had failed to prove his client’s actions and words caused actual harm to Heslin and Lewis. He said it’s fair to conclude that someone else “weaponized” what Jones said about Sandy Hook and “convinced them that Alex Jones was responsible for their grief.”
Jones was the only person to testify in his own defense. His lawyer asked if he now understood that it was “completely irresponsible” to make false claims that the massacre had not taken place and that no one had died.
Jones said he does, but added, “They (the media) won’t let me take it back.”
He also complained that he “was someone who runs around talking about Sandy Hook, makes money off of Sandy Hook, is obsessed with Sandy Hook.”
Under questioning from attorney Mark Bankston, Jones acknowledged that he has brought conspiracy charges for other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.
Bankston then touted Jones’ credibility, showing an Infowars video clip from last week in which the host, not Jones, claimed the trial had been rigged, and provided a photo of the flaming judge. Then came another clip of Jones asking if the jury was drawn from a group of people who “don’t know what planet” they live on. Jones said he didn’t have that part literally.
Bankston said Jones failed to comply with court orders to send text messages and emails. letters to collect pre-trial evidence. Jones said: “I don’t use email. email’ then showed one from another source from his email. postal address. He replied, “I must have dictated it.”
At one point, Bankston told Jones that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the past two years of text messages from Jones’ cell phone.
The lawyer also showed the court an e-mail. a letter from an Infowars business officer informing Jones that the company had made $800,000 in one day’s sales of its products, which would amount to nearly $300 million a year. Jones said it was the company’s best day in sales.
Jones testified a day after Heslin and Lewis said in a courtroom in Austin, where Jones and his companies are based, that Jones and the false hoax claims pushed by him and Infowars had made their lives a “living hell” with death threats, online abuse and harassment .
They had a day of testimony for the accused on Tuesday, during which the judge reprimanded the impressive Jones for not answering what he said under oath.
In a fascinating conversation, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away. Earlier in the day, Jones told the audience on his broadcast program that Heslin is “slow” and being manipulated by bad people.
At one point, Lewis asked Jones, “Do you think I’m an actor?”
“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones replied after the judge warned him to remain silent until he was called to testify.
Heslin told jurors he held his son with a bullet hole in his head, even as he described the extent of his son’s injuries. The main part of the case is 2017. Infowars broadcast that Heslin did not hold his son.
The jury was shown a school photo of a smiling Jesse taken two weeks before he was killed. The parents did not receive the photo until after the shooting. They described how Jesse was known for telling his classmates to “run!” which most likely saved lives.
Jones initially took the stand later Tuesday. At one point, the judge sent the jury out of the courtroom and reprimanded Jones for telling the jury that he had complied with pre-trial evidence collection when he had not, and that he was bankrupt, which has not been established. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were furious that Jones had mentioned he was bankrupt, which they said would taint the jury’s decision on damages.
“This is not your show,” judge Maya Guerra told Gamble Jones. “Your beliefs don’t make something real. You swore.”
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for portraying the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors to promote gun control.
At stake in the Texas trial is how much Jones will pay. The jury will consider damages in two stages. After deciding whether Jones should pay the parents compensation for defamation and emotional distress, they must decide whether he must also pay punitive damages. That part will include a separate mini-trial involving Jones and financial experts testifying about his and his company’s net worth.
Jones has already tried to financially protect Free Speech Systems. The company, which is the parent company of Infowars, filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. The Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over their financial claims, claiming the company is trying to protect millions owed to Jones and his family through shell entities.
Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.
For more information on school shootings, see AP: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings