Baltimore Sun

Infowars’ Jones now thinks Sandy Hook was ‘100% real’

- By Jim Vertuno

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 that he now believes it was “100% real.”

Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 attack testified about the suffering, death threats and harassment they’ve endured because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom that he definitely thinks the attack happened.

“Especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said at his trial to determine how much he and his media company, Free Speech Systems, owe for defaming Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis. Their son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 students and six educators who were killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticu­t, during the deadliest school shooting in American history.

Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that an apology wouldn’t suffice and that Jones needed to be held accountabl­e for repeatedly spreading falsehoods about the attack.

Jones told the jury that any compensati­on above $2 million “will sink us,” but added: “Ï think it’s appropriat­e for whatever you decide what you want to do.”

Testimony in the trial, which is in its second week, concluded at around midday Wednesday.

During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal said the plaintiffs didn’t prove that his client’s actions and words caused actual harm to Heslin and Lewis. He said it’s fair to infer that someone

else “weaponized” what Jones has said about Sandy Hook and “convinced them that Alex Jones was responsibl­e for their grief.”

Jones was the only person who testified in his own defense. His attorney asked him if he now understand­s it was “absolutely irresponsi­ble” to push the false claims that the massacre didn’t happen and no one died.

Jones said he does, but added, “They (the media) won’t let me take it back.”

Under cross-examinatio­n from attorney Mark Bankston, Jones acknowledg­ed his history of raising conspiracy claims regarding 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 featuring a photo of the judge in flames. Then came another clip of Jones asking if the jury was 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 hadn’t complied with court orders to provide

text message and emails for pretrial evidence gathering. Jones said, “I don’t use email,” then was showed one gathered from another source that came from his email address. He replied: “I must have dictated that.”

At one point, Bankston informed Jones that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the last two years’ worth of texts from Jones’ cellphone.

The attorney also showed the court an email from an Infowars business officer informing Jones that the company had earned $800,000 gross in selling its products in a single day, which would amount to nearly $300 million in a year. Jones said that was the company’s best day in sales.

At stake in the trial is how much Jones will pay.

The parents have asked the jury to award $150 million in compensati­on 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 protect Free Speech Systems financiall­y. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims.

 ?? BRIANA SANCHEZ/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN ?? Infowars host Alex Jones testified Wednesday that it was irresponsi­ble to call the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre a hoax.
BRIANA SANCHEZ/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN Infowars host Alex Jones testified Wednesday that it was irresponsi­ble to call the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre a hoax.

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