Alex Jones says he never intended to hurt Sandy Hook parents with hoax claims
U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones told a Texas jury on Tuesday that he never intended to hurt the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre when he claimed the shooting was a hoax, saying his comments were taken out of context.
Jones, founder of the Infowars radio show and webcast, is on trial to determine how much he must pay for spreading falsehoods about the killing of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. Jones has since acknowledged the shooting took place.
“I never intentionally tried to hurt you,” Jones said, addressing the parents. “I never even said your name until this case came to court. I didn’t know who you were until this came up.”
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, are seeking as much as $150 million from Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems LLC.
Jesse Lewis’s mother, Scarlett, addressed Jones directly on Tuesday after he questioned Heslin’s credibility during a morning broadcast.
“I know you believe me, yet you’re going to leave this courtroom and say it again on your show,” she said. “Do you have the capacity to put yourself in my shoes? Do you have empathy?”
Heslin on Tuesday told jurors that he had endured years of “hell” as a result of Jones’ falsehoods.
“I can’t even describe the past nine-and-a-half years of hell I have had to endure because of the negligence and recklessness of Alex Jones and the propaganda he has peddled for his own profits and success,” Heslin testified on Tuesday.
A lawyer for Jones said he had already paid a price after being de-platformed in 2018 and losing millions of viewers.
The defamation suit in Austin, Texas, where Infowars is based, is one of several brought by families of victims who say Jones’s followers harassed them as a result of his false claims.
Free Speech Systems declared bankruptcy in Texas court last week. Jones said during a Monday broadcast that the filing will help the company stay on the air while it appeals.
The Sandy Hook gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, used a Remington Bushmaster rifle to carry out the massacre. It ended when Lanza killed himself with the approaching sound of police sirens.