Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Wednesday that he now realizes it was irresponsible of him to call the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100 percent true,” a day after the parents of a 6-year-old. boy was killed in the attackthey have endured because of what Jones trumpeted on his media platforms.
“It was … especially since I met the parents. It’s 100 percent real,” Jones testified in his trial to determine how much he owes in defamation to the parents of a 6-year-old who were among the 20 students and six teachers killed in the attack on 2012 at school in Newtown, Connecticut.
But the parents suing Jones said a day earlier that an apology would not be enough and that the Infowars host should be held accountable repeatedlyfor the attack. They are asking for at least $150 million.
Final 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.
Jones is the only person testifying to defend himself and his media company, Free Speech Systems. His lawyer asked him if he now understands that it was “absolutely irresponsible” to promote false claims that the massacre did not happen and no one died.
Jones said he does, but added, “They (the media) won’t let me take it back.”
He also complained that he was “typed as someone who runs around talking about Sandy Hook, makes money off of Sandy Hook, is obsessed with Sandy Hook.”
Jones’ testimony came a day after Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed in the attack, testified that Jones and the false hoax claims promoted by Jones and his website Infowars took their livesonline abuse and harassment.
They led a day of charged testimony Tuesday, which included the judge reprimanding the bombastic Jones for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath.
In a riveting exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away. Earlier in the day, Jones was on his talk show telling his audience that Heslin is “slow” and being manipulated by bad people.
“I’m a mother first and foremost and I know you’re a father. My son existed,” Lewis told Jones. “I’m not deep state… I know you know that… And yet you’re going to walk out of 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 before the judge warned him to be quiet until called to testify.
Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed multiple lawsuits alleging that claims of a Sandy Hook hoax promoted by Jones led to years of abuse by him and his followers.
Heslin and Lewis said they fear for their lives and have been confronted by strangers at home and on the street. Heslin said his house and car were shot at. The court heard a death threat was sent via phone message to another Sandy Hook family.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.
Scarlett Lewis also described threatening emails that appeared to have revealed deep details of her personal life.
“It’s fear for your life,” said Scarlett Lewis. “You don’t know what they would do.”
Heslin said he didn’t know if the Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theory was started by Jones, but it was Jones who “lighted the match and lit the fire” with an online platform and broadcast that reached millions worldwide.
“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I really realized how dangerous it was.”
Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony Tuesday morning while on his show — a move Heslin dismissed as “cowardly” — but did make it to the courtroom for part of Scarlett Lewis’ testimony. He was accompanied by several private security guards.
“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long time coming … to confront Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” Heslin said when Jones was not there.
Heslin told jurors he was holding his son with a bullet hole in his head, describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key part of the case is a 2017 Infowars broadcast that reported that Heslin was not holding his son.
Jurors were 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 shoot. They described how Jesse was known for telling classmates to “run!” which probably saved lives.
An apology from Jones wouldn’t be good enough, the parents said.
“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I’m going to finish this fight.”
In 2017, Heslin went on television, telling CBS News, to address the Sandy Hook deniers directly. “I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole in his head,” she said.
After that, the harassment got worse, Heslin said.
“I had a lot of death threats”. “People say, ‘It must be you with a bullet hole in your head.’
Jones later took the stand and was initially combative with the judge, who had asked him to answer his attorney’s question. Jones testified that he had long wanted to apologize to the plaintiffs.
The judge later sent the jurors out of the courtroom and strongly reprimanded Jones for telling jurors he had complied with pretrial evidence collection even though he had not and that he is bankrupt, which has not been determined. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were furious with Jones for saying he is bankrupt, which they worry will sway jurors’ decisions on damages.
“This is not your show,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs do not make anything true. You are under oath.”
Last September, the judge notified Jones in absentia of his failure to turn over documents requested by the Sandy Hook families. 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 $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury will then consider whether Jones and his company will pay punitive damages.
Jones has already tried to financially protect Free Speech Systems. The companyLast week. The Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims, claiming the company is trying to protect millions belonging to Jones and his family through shell entities.