WATERBURY, Conn. (TBEN) – Seven days into his trial for calling the Sandy Hook school a hoax, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is expected to appear in court for the first time and begin testifying on Thursday, as he and his lawyer try limit the damages he has to pay to families who have lost loved ones in the massacre.
Jones was in Connecticut this week in preparation for his testimony, but only briefly appeared at the courthouse on Tuesday and did not enter the courtroom. The Infowars host has dismissed the proceedings as a “cross-dressing trial” and the judge as a “tyrant” in comments outside the courthouse in Waterbury, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the site of the 2012 Newtown shooting.
Twenty freshmen and six teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Several family members of victims, meanwhile, gave emotional testimony at trial that they were traumatized by people calling the shooting fake, including confrontations at home and in public and messages including death and rape threats. The plaintiffs include an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and relatives of eight of the victims.
Judge Barbara Bellis ruled last year that Jones was default liable for damages to plaintiffs without trial, as punishment for what she termed his repeated failures to deliver documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury will only decide how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
Bellis said in court on Wednesday that she was willing to deal with any seditious testimony from Jones, with disregard for legal proceedings if necessary.
Bellis was also expected to tell Jones, when he first takes the stand and with the jury out of court, what topics he can’t talk about — including free speech and the $73 million Sandy Hook families. settlement earlier this year with gunsmith Remington, through which the Bushmaster rifle was used to kill the victims at Sandy Hook.
Jones was also found default liable in two similar lawsuits over the hoax lies in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one of the lawsuits last month ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the victims. children killed. A third trial in Texas is expected to begin by the end of the year.
When Jones stood before the Texas jury last month and testified under oath, he softened his rhetoric. He said he realized the hoax lies were irresponsible and that the school shooting was “100% real.”
“I inadvertently participated in things that hurt the feelings of these people,” said Jones, who also admitted to making conspiracy claims about other mass tragedies, from the Oklahoma City bombings and the Boston Marathon to the Las Vegas mass shootings. and Parkland, Florida, “and I’m sorry.”
Jones had portrayed the Sandy Hook shooting as staged by crisis actors as part of gun control efforts.
The testimonials during the current trial also focused on website analytics data from Infowars employees showing how sales of nutritional supplements, food, clothing and other items peaked around the time Jones spoke about the Sandy Hook shooting.
Evidence, including internal Infowars emails and statements, also shows disagreement within the company over the spreading of the hoax lies.
Jones’ lawyer Norman Pattis argues that any damage should be limited and accused the victims’ relatives of exaggerating the damage the lies caused them.
The family members have testified that they continue to fear for their safety because of what the hoax believers have done and could do.
Jennifer Hensel, whose 6-year-old daughter Avielle Richman was one of the dead, testified Wednesday that for security reasons, she continues to monitor her surroundings, even checking the back seat of her car. She said she is trying to protect her two children aged 7 and 5 from the false lies. A juror wept during her testimony.
“They are so young,” she said of her children. “Their innocence is so beautiful right now. And at some point there are a horde of people who can hurt them.”