Heslin, who spoke ahead of Jones’ arrival at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin on Tuesday, spoke of his grief – compounded by death threats and abuse from strangers who brought the parents to fear for their own lives. “I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin told the jury.
Twenty-six people were killed in the shooting, including 20 young children. Jones had told his audience that it was a “false flag” operation by “crisis actors”.
“My son existed,” Jesse’s tearful mother said, directing her testimony to Jones. “There are records of Jesse’s birth.”
Jurors in Austin, home of Infowars, will not hear evidence of defamation claims because Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a rare default judgment against Jones after she refused to turn over documents to the parents’ lawyers. Instead, the jury will determine the amount of compensatory and punitive damages Jones must pay.
Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week, according to Jones’ attorney, who said the company would not intervene in the defamation lawsuit.
Alex Jones’ media company files for bankruptcy at Sandy Hook trial
Lewis stressed that she was not part of any “deep state” conspiracy theory. “I know you know that. That’s the problem… and you keep saying it, why? For money?” she asked. Jones shook his head.
“It seems so unbelievable to me that we have to do this – that we have to implore you … to stop lying,” Lewis said. “I’m so glad that day is here. I’m actually relieved…to have been able to tell you all of this.
Heslin testified that it was unclear if the conspiracy theory started with Jones, but said it was Jones who “lit the match and started the fire”, reaching millions with his Infowars platform.
A forensic psychologist who testified said Heslin and Lewis suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jones has previously acknowledged the shooting took place and blamed his misrepresentations on “a form of psychosis.” He testified Tuesday that he waited to apologize and that his remarks were taken out of context.
“I never intentionally tried to hurt you. I never even said your name until it happened in court – I didn’t know who you were until it happened,” Jones said. “The internet had questions. I had questions.
Lewis asked Jones bluntly during his testimony, “Do you think I’m an actor?”
He replied, “No, I don’t think you’re an actor.”
Jones, 48, has been banned from major social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Spotify for violating their hate speech policies. Connecticut and Texas judges also found Jones liable for damages in lawsuits stemming from his false allegations.
Jones described the legal proceedings as a “witch hunt” and a “show trial” in a tirade to reporters last month.
Timothy Bella contributed to this report.