Austin, Texas — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified Wednesday that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and now believes it was “100% real.”
Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in a 2012 attack, Jones testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment he faced because of the trumpet he played on his media platform. Granted, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks there was an assault.
“Especially since I met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said in her trial to determine how much she and her media company, Free Speech Systems, owed for defaming Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis. Her son Jesse Lewis was among those 20 students. and was among six teachers who were killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, the deadliest school shooting in American history.
But Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that apologizing would not be enough and that Jones should be held accountable for repeatedly spreading lies about the attack. They are seeking at least $150 million in the trial, which was conducted to determine how much Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, would have to pay for defaming Heslin and Lewis.
Jones – who portrayed the trial against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights – told the jury that any compensation above $2 million would “overwhelm us”, but added: “Ï Think whatever It’s fair for him to decide what you want.”
Testimony at the trial, which is in its second week, almost ended Wednesday afternoon.
During the closing arguments on Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ attorney Andino Renal said the plaintiffs did not prove that their client’s actions and words caused actual harm to Heslin and Lewis. He said it is reasonable to speculate that someone else “armed” what Jones said about Sandy Hook and “made him believe that Alex Jones was responsible for his grief.”
Jones was the only person to testify in his defense. His lawyer asked him if he now understood that it was “absolutely irresponsible” to pursue false claims that the massacre had not occurred 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 “typecast as someone who talks about Sandy Hook, makes money from Sandy Hook, is obsessed with Sandy Hook.”
Under cross-examination on behalf of Attorney Mark Bankston, Jones acknowledged his history of mounting conspiracy claims about other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.
Bankston then went after Jones’ credibility, showing an InfoWars video clip from last week when a host – not Jones – claimed the trial was rigged and showed a picture of the judge in flames. Then came another clip of Jones asking whether the jury had been selected from a group of people “who don’t know what planet they live on”. Jones said he didn’t mean that part literally.
Bankston said Jones had not complied with court orders to provide text messages and emails to collect pre-trial evidence. “I don’t use email,” Jones said, then shown to have gathered from another source that came from his email address. He replied: “I would have decided that.”
At one point, Bankston informs Jones that his lawyers had mistakenly sent Bankston messages worth the previous two years from Jones’ cellphone.
The attorney also showed the court an email from an Infowars business executive informing Jones that the company had made $800,000 selling its products in a single day, which would amount to approximately $300 million a year. Jones said the company had its best day in sales.
Jones’ testimony came a day after Heslin and Lewis told the courtroom in Austin, where Jones and his companies are based, that Jones and false fraud claims that he and InfoWars put their lives under threat of death, online abuse and abuse. Made “living hell”. Harassment.
He led a day of implicated testimony on Tuesday, which included scolding Bombshell Jones for not being truthful with some of what the judge had said under oath.
In an amusing exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who sat about 10 feet away. Earlier that day, Jones was telling his audience on his broadcast show that Heslin is “slow” and being molested by bad guys.
At one point, Lewis asked Jones: “Do you think I’m an actor?”
“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones replied, before the judge advised him to remain silent until called to testify.
Heslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole through his head, even describing how much damage his son’s body had suffered. A key section of the case is a 2017 Infowars broadcast stating that Heslin did not catch his son.
The jury was shown a school photograph of a smiling Jesse, taken two weeks before she was killed. The parents didn’t get the photo until after the shooting. He described how Jesse was known to tell classmates to “run away”. Which might have saved his life.
Jones initially took the stand later on Tuesday. At one point the judge sent the jury out of the courtroom and strongly reprimanded Jones for telling the jury that he had complied with the pre-trial evidence gathering, even though he did not and was insolvent, having been determined. has not been done. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were outraged by Jones’ mention of bankruptcy, which they worry would tarnish the jury’s decisions about damages.
“This is not your show,” judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs do not make anything true. You are under oath.”
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre, which involved actors intended to increase gun control.
At stake in the Texas trial is how much Jones will pay. The jury members will consider damages in two stages. Once they determine that Jones must pay parental compensation for defamation and emotional distress, they must decide whether to pay punitive damages as well. That portion will include a separate mini-trial involving Jones and financial experts who testify about him and his company’s net worth.
Jones has already tried to keep the free speech system financially secure. The company, which is the parent company of Infowars, filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. The Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones’ financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to protect the millions owned by Jones and his family through shell entities.
Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.
For more AP coverage of the school shootings: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings