Los Angeles Times

Their ‘living hell’ since Sandy Hook

Parents of a boy killed in the 2012 shooting describe to a jury the trauma from Alex Jones’ hoax claims.


AUSTIN, Texas — Fighting back tears and finally given the chance to confront conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting described being put through a “living hell” of death threats, harassment and trauma in the last decade caused by Jones using his media platforms to push claims that the rampage was a hoax.

The parents led a day of charged testimony that included the judge scolding Jones for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., took the witness stand Tuesday on the final day of testimony in the two-week defamation damages trial against Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems. They are seeking at least $150 million in damages.

Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away.

“I am a mother first and foremost, and I know you are a father. My son existed,” Lewis said to Jones. “I am not 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 responded before the judge admonished him to be quiet.

Lewis continued trying to impress on Jones that the Sandy Hook shooting and the trauma inflicted in the decade since was real.

“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis said. “I am so glad this day is here. I’m actually relieved. And grateful ... that I got to say all this to you.”

Jones shook his head several times while Lewis was addressing him.

Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits alleging that hoax claims pushed by Jones have led to years of abuse by him and his followers. Heslin and Lewis both said they fear for their lives and have been confronted by strangers at home and on the street. Heslin said shots have been fired at his home and car.

“I can’t even describe the last 9 1⁄2 years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessne­ss and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said.

Heslin said he didn’t know whether the Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy theory originated with Jones, but it was Jones who “lit the match and started the fire” with an online platform and broadcast that reached millions of people worldwide.

“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I truly realized how dangerous it was.”

Jones skipped Heslin’s morning testimony while he was on his show — a move Heslin dismissed as “cowardly” — but arrived in the courtroom for part of Lewis’ testimony.

“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long time coming ... to face Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore the honor and legacy of my son,” Heslin said when Jones wasn’t there.

Heslin told the jury about holding his son, who had a bullet hole in his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body.

An apology from Jones wouldn’t be good enough, the parents said.

“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I’ll finish this fight.”

Jones testified that he had long wanted to apologize to the plaintiffs. “I never intentiona­lly tried to hurt you. I never said your name until this came to court,” Jones said. “The internet had questions. I had questions.”

Later, the judge sent the jury out of the room and scolded Jones for telling the jury he complied with pretrial evidence gathering even though he hadn’t, and that he is bankrupt, which has not been determined.

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