Alex Jones takes stand in 2nd defamation trial over Sandy Hook hoax claims
Written by Aaron Katersky and Meredith Deliso ABC News on September 22, 2022
(WATERBURY, CT) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is testifying in a Connecticut courtroom Thursday in a second defamation trial to determine what the InfoWars host should pay to Sandy Hook families.
The tempestuous testimony was so frequently interrupted by objections and sidebar conferences at the bench, Judge Barbara Bellis at one point told the jury, “You’re going to get your exercise in today, those of you who wear Fitbits.”
Jones, who has suggested the families who successfully sued him for defamation have a political agenda because they’ve done work on gun control, acknowledged the risks involved in his profession as a conspiracy theorist and provocateur.
“The world isn’t an easy place. When people become political figures they get in the arena,” Jones said.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Chris Mattei, pounced.
“Were you just trying to suggest that my clients, these families, deserve what they got because they stepped into the arena?” Mattei asked.
Jones answered “no” as his lawyer objected to the question.
Jones’ testimony will resume this afternoon following a lunch break.
Bellis last year found Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, liable in a defamation lawsuit for calling the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax.
The jury will decide how much in damages Jones should pay to an FBI agent who responded to the scene and eight families of victims that Jones called actors.
Prior to testifying, Jones has spoken out amid the trial outside the Waterbury courthouse this week, calling the judge a “tyrant” and the trial a “political hit job.” In a press briefing Wednesday, he told reporters did not “premediatively question Sandy Hook,” and that he apologizes if he has caused anyone pain but “didn’t create the story” of Sandy Hook being a hoax.
He repeatedly said he would not perjure himself by saying he’s guilty.
“You can’t have a judge telling you to say that you’re guilty when you’re not. That is insane,” he said.
There is no guilt in civil trials like this one. The plaintiffs successfully sued Jones for defamation in November 2021 over his comments, which included calling them “crisis actors,” saying the massacre was “staged” and “the fakest thing since the three-dollar bill.”
Bellis found Jones liable for damages by default because he and his companies, like Infowars, showed “callous disregard” for the rules of discovery. The jury will now determine much Jones and Free Speech Systems will have to pay the families of children killed in the massacre.
The jury so far has heard from several parents, including Jennifer Hensel, whose 6-year-old daughter, Avielle Richman, was among the 20 children killed in the massacre. She told the jury Wednesday that she still fears for her family’s safety after years of receiving hate mail from people questioning that her daughter had died and checks the backseat of her car before getting in.
After her husband, Jeremy Richman, died by suicide in 2019, she started receiving emails from people calling his death fake as well, she said.
“People were in the cemetery around Avielle’s grave marker looking for evidence that Jeremy had died,” Hensel said.
Other parents have also testified about death threats, rape threats and confrontations outside their homes.
The Connecticut trial comes a month after a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the victims.
In that defamation trial, Jones was successfully sued by the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre after he claimed that the shooting — where 20 children and six adults were killed — was a hoax, a claim he said he now thinks is “100% real.”
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