AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified Wednesday that he now realizes it was irresponsible to call the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real.”
A day after the 2012 the parents of the 6-year-old boy who died in the attack testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they experienced. 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 will not be enough and that Jones must be held accountable for his continued lies about the attack. They reach at least 150 million.
Closing arguments are expected to begin later Wednesday after more testimony from Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights. rights.
Jones is the only person testifying in his own defense. His lawyer asked if he now realized it was “completely irresponsible” to make the false claims. that there was no massacre and no one was killed.
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.”
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.
“I am a mother first and I know you are a father. My son existed,” Lewis told Jones. “I’m not in a deep state… I know you know that… And yet you’re going to leave this courthouse and say it again 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,” Jones replied after the judge warned him to remain silent until he was called to testify.
Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed multiple lawsuits, alleging that the Sandy Hook hoax claims pushed by Jones led to years of abuse by him and his followers.
Both Heslin and Lewis said they fear for their lives and have had encounters with strangers at home and on the street. Heslin said his home and car were fired upon. Jurors heard a death threat sent to another Sandy Hook family.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the hell that I and others have endured because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.
Scarlett Lewis also described threatening emails that appeared to reveal deep details of her personal life.
“It’s fear for your life,” said Scarlett Lewis. “You don’t know what they were going to do.”
Heslin said he didn’t know if the Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theory came from Jones, but it was Jones who “lit the match and lit the fire” on the online platform and broadcast that reached millions around the world.
“What was said about me and about Sandy Hook itself is echoing around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I really realized how dangerous it was.
Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony Tuesday morning when he was on the show, a move Heslin dismissed as “cowardly,” but did attend the courtroom to hear part of Scarlett Lewis’ testimony. He was accompanied by several private security guards.
“Today is very important and long overdue for me … to confront Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” Heslin said in Jones’ absence.
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.
The parents said an apology from Jones wouldn’t be enough.
“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I will finish this fight.”
Jones later took the stand and initially struggled 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.
The judge later 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.”
Last September, a judge gave Jones a restraining order after he failed to turn over documents requested by the Sandy Hook family. A Connecticut court issued a similar default judgment against Jones on the same grounds in a separate lawsuit brought by other Sandy Hook parents.
At stake in the trial is how much Jones will pay. The parents asked the jury to award them $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A jury will then consider whether Jones and his company will pay punitive damages.
Jones has already tried to financially protect Free Speech Systems. The company 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.
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