WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Testifying at his Connecticut libel trial Thursday, Alex Jones acknowledged he had promoted the conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, but angrily refused to offer any further apologies .
More than a dozen relatives of the 26 shooting victims showed up to observe his often-controversial testimony in Waterbury Superior Court, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Newtown, where the shooting took place.
Jones was found liable without trial for damages to plaintiffs last year after the judge called repeated failures to provide documents to her attorneys. The six-person jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, parent company of Jones’ Infowars media platform, should pay families for defaming them and intentionally causing them emotional distress.
On Thursday, Jones admitted to calling parents “crisis actors” on his show and said the shooting was “wrong as a three-dollar bill.”
The families of the Sandy Hook victims have testified at Alex Jones’ trial. (Credit: CNN/GETTY IMAGES/AP IMAGES/INFOWARS/POOL VIA WFSB/RICHMAN FAMILY)
Plaintiff’s attorney, Christopher Mattei, accused Jones of setting targets on the parents’ backs by pointing at family members in the courtroom and saying, “These are real people.”
“Just like all the Iraqis you liberals have killed and loved,” Jones replied. “Only you’re incredible. You turn emotions on and off whenever you want. You’re just chasing an ambulance.”
“Why don’t you show a little respect?” Mattei shot back as Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, shouted objections and several family members shook their heads in apparent disbelief.
The exchange continued, with Mattei noting that the families in the courtroom had “lost children, sisters, wives, mothers.”
“Is this a fight session?” said Jones, who has acknowledged in recent years that the shooting was real. “Are we in China? I’ve said sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying sorry to myself.”
After pardoning the jury for the day, Judge Barbara Bellis admonished both sides and said further outbursts would lead to a contempt hearing.
Bellis had started the day by going over the issues Jones failed to mention in his testimony: freedom of speech; this year’s $73 million settlement by the Sandy Hook families with gunmaker Remington (the company made the Bushmaster rifle used to kill victims at Sandy Hook); the percentage of Jones shows that have discussed Sandy Hook; and whether he benefited from those shows or a similar case in Texas.
“This is not the appropriate forum for you to make that statement,” Bellis said. Jones indicated that he understood.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is on trial for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre a hoax. (CNN, INFOWARS, AP PICTURES, GETTY PICTURES, POOL VIA WFSB)
But the jury had to be sent out of the courtroom several times while attorneys argued over the scope of Jones’ answers.
“You’re going to exercise today for those of you who wear Fitbits,” the judge told the jury.
Early in the process, family members of the victims often made emotional statements, describing how they endured death threats, personal harassment and offensive comments on social media. Some moved to avoid abuse.
Jones’ shows had portrayed the Sandy Hook shooting as being staged by crisis actors as part of gun control efforts.
Testimony has also focused on website analytics data, conducted by Infowars staff, showing how sales of supplements, groceries, clothing and other items were soaring around the time Jones was speaking out about the Sandy Hook shooting.
Evidence, including internal Infowars emails and affidavits, also shows disagreements within the company over the dissemination of the hoax lies.
Pattis argues that any harm should be limited and accuses victims’ families of exaggerating the harm the lies have caused them.
Jones has already been found liable in two similar lawsuits over the Sandy Hook fraud lies in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one of the trials last month ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of a child killed Children. A third trial in Texas is scheduled to begin later this year.
Jones was asked Thursday about a page on his Infowars website that described the trial as a “kangaroo court” and included a graphic showing the judge with lasers shooting out of her eyes. He said the page was created by his staff but called it a “good report”.
He was asked about ads on this site and other Sandy Hook content, as well as daily earnings reports. Jones said he couldn’t answer those questions but denied he saw the process as a marketing opportunity.
When later asked about his fundraiser and the items offered on his online store, he made sure to reveal the URL where people could buy cryptocurrency to support his business.
“That will end up as a clip on your show tonight,” Mattei said. “You’re promoting your cryptocurrency site?”
“I mean, people want to keep us in the fight, so I hope whoever the big whales are that’s giving us money before they move on,” Jones said.
Jones, who is expected to return to the stand on Friday, made brief comments to reporters as he exited the courthouse.
“The First Amendment will prevail,” he said. “The American people will never be silenced.”
Associated Press writer Michael Hill contributed to this report from Waterbury.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.