Alex Jones admits Sandy Hook massacre was ‘100% real’ as he testifies in libel trial

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified Wednesday that he now understood it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believed it was “100% real”.

Speaking a day after the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 attack testified to the suffering, death threats and harassment they endured because of what Jones trumpeted on his media platforms, the Infowars host told a Texas courtroom he truly believed the attack had taken place.

“Especially since I met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said during 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 20 students and six educators who were killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, which was the deadliest shooting in American history.

Alex Jones enters the courtroom
Alex Jones enters the courtroom in front of Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Sand Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas on 28 July 2022.

BRIANA SANCHEZ/POOL


But Heslin and Lewis said on Tuesday that an apology would not be enough and that Jones should be held accountable for repeatedly spreading lies about the attack. They are asking for at least $150 million.

Testimony at the trial, now in its second week, ended around noon Wednesday.

During closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal said the plaintiffs failed to 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 “cocked” what Jones said about Sandy Hook and “convinced them that Alex Jones was responsible for their grief.”

Jones was the only person to testify in his own defense. His lawyer asked him if he now understood that it was “absolutely irresponsible” to push the false claims that the massacre did not take place and that no one died.

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

He also complained of being “typed as someone who talks about Sandy Hook, makes money with Sandy Hook, is obsessed with Sandy Hook”.

During a scathing cross-examination by attorney Mark Bankston, Jones admitted to his history of conspiracy charges relating to other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings to the shootings of mass in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.

Bankston then attacked Jones’ credibility, showing a video clip from Infowars from last week when a host – not Jones – claimed the trial was rigged and featured a photo of the judge in flames. Then came another clip of Jones asking if 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 failed to comply with court orders to provide pre-trial evidence gathering texts and emails. Jones said, “I don’t use email,” and then one was shown collected from another source from his email address. He replied, “I had to dictate that.”

At one point, Bankston informed Jones that his attorneys had mistakenly sent Bankston the past two years’ text messages from Jones’ cell phone.

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

Jones’ testimony came a day after Heslin and Lewis told the courtroom in Austin, where Jones and his companies are based, that Jones and the fake hoax claim he and Infowars made their lives a “living hell” death threatsonline abuse and harassment.

They led a busy day of testimony on Tuesday that included the judge chastising the pompous Jones for not being truthful with some of what he said under oath.

In a riveting exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was seated about 10 feet away. Earlier today, Jones appeared on his broadcast program telling his audience that Heslin was “slow” and manipulated by bad people.

“I am first and foremost a mother and I know you are a father. My son existed,” Lewis told Jones. “I’m not in a 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 replied before the judge urged him to shut up until he was called to testify.

Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits alleging the Sandy Hook hoax allegations pushed by Jones led to years of abuse by him and his followers.

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

Jones skipped Heslin’s testimony Tuesday morning while on his show – a move Heslin called “cowardly” – but arrived in 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 stand up to Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” Heslin said when Jones wasn’t there.

Heslin told the jury that he held his son with a bullet hole in his head, even describing the extent of the damage done to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 Infowars show that said Heslin wasn’t holding his son.

In 2017, Heslin went on television, he told CBS News, to speak directly to Sandy Hook deniers. “I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet in the head,” he said.

After that, the harassment only got worse, Heslin said.

“I received many death threats” Heslin told CBS News in 2018. “People say, ‘You should be the ones with the bullet hole in your head.'”

The jury was 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 shooting. They described how Jesse was known to tell his classmates to “Run!” which probably saved lives.

Jones then spoke on Tuesday and was initially combative with the judge, who asked him to answer his own lawyer’s question. Jones testified that he had long wanted to apologize to the plaintiffs.

Later, the judge dismissed the jury from the courtroom and sharply reprimanded Jones for telling the jury that he had complied with pre-trial evidence collection even though he had not and that he was bankrupt, which has not been determined. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were furious that Jones mentioned he was bankrupt, which they say will taint the jury’s decisions on damages.

“This is not your show,” judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs don’t make anything true. You are under oath.”

Last September, the judge reprimanded Jones in her default judgment for her failure to turn over documents requested by the Sandy Hook families. A Connecticut court entered a similar default judgment against Jones for the same reasons in a separate lawsuit filed by other Sandy Hook parents.

What is at stake in the lawsuit is how much Jones will pay. The parents 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 company will pay punitive damages.

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

Jones has previously tried to financially protect Free Speech Systems. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. The Sandy Hook families sued Jones separately for his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to shield millions belonging to Jones and his family through shell entities.

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