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‘I Want You to Hear This’: A Sandy Hook Mother Confronts Alex Jones

AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, a Sandy Hook mother brought conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones face-to-face in a courtroom for 90 minutes with the havoc she said over the mass shooting that killed her son, wreaked havoc on her family and on national discourse.

“Truth – truth is so essential to our world. Truth is what we base our reality on, and we have to agree on that to have a civil society,” Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse, 6, was one of 20 first-graders and six educators murdered in 2012. at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Jones from the witness stand.

Mr. Jones has questioned the events at Sandy Hook, but “you know that’s not true,” she said, staring at him as he fiddled around the defense table. “When you say those things, there’s an edge of society that you believe are actually dangerous.”

It was a remarkable moment in the protracted legal battle between the Sandy Hook families and the Infowars fabulist, who for years broadcast lies that the shooting was a government hoax and that the families were “actors” in the plot. Mr Jones, who regularly berates the families on the broadcast, has rarely appeared in the same room as them, even though he has been held liable in a series of libel cases brought by the families of 10 victims.

The trial involving Mrs. Lewis and Neil Heslin, Jesse’s father, is the first of three in which juries will decide how much Mr. Jones should pay for defaming the families. mr. Jones has mostly avoided appearing in court. But by chance planning as he prepared to testify for his defense, he came face to face with Ms. Lewis, who addressed him personally during her testimony.

“Alex, I want you to hear this,” Mrs. Lewis said, holding him in her gaze. “As a country, we are more polarized than ever. Part of it is because of you.” Mr. Jones shook his head nervously.

The Sandy Hook families suffered torture and threats for years after Mr. Jones, who began hours after the shooting, described Sandy Hook as a “false flag” operation planned by the government as a pretext to confiscate Americans’ firearms.

Company records released during the proceedings indicate that Mr. Jones has earned more than $50 million annually from the sale of nutritional supplements, armor, body armor and doomsday prepper equipment by spreading conspiracy theories to millions who go to his radio and online show. Jesse Lewis’s parents are seeking $150 million in damages. More important than money, Ms. Lewis said Tuesday, “I hope to reach an era of truth.”

At the heart of the trial, which concludes this week, is a June 2017 episode of NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” in which Ms. Kelly profiled Mr. Jones. On the broadcast, Mr. Heslin protested against Mr. Jones’s denial of the shooting. He recalled his last moments with Jesse, saying, “I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.” Then Mr. Jones and a sidekick, Owen Shroyer, suggested on Infowars that Mr. Heslin was lying.

mr. Heslin was the first to testify on Tuesday. Soft-spoken and frequently pausing to cry, he described his son as an energetic boy with a booming voice, who enjoyed working with his father to collect scrap metal and recyclables which he returned to spend money. When the gunman entered Jesse’s classroom, he yelled “Run!” during a pause in recording. Nine children fled and survived.

Heslin said conspiracy theorists had tried to reach him by phone, accosted him, and pushed him onto the street. Someone fired a gun into his house and car. This spring, he said, someone drove past his house and yelled “Alex Jones!” and he heard the sound of gunfire.

Looking at Mr. Jones’ empty chair at the defense table, he called his absence “a cowardly act.”

“The statements and comments made by both Infowars and Alex Jones have tarnished Jesse’s legacy,” he added.

While Mr. Heslin was witnessing, Mr. Jones was broadcasting his show across town. After viewing Mr Heslin’s testimony on a YouTube feed in court, he called the grieving father “slow” and “manipulated by some very bad people.”

An hour later, Mr. Jones appeared in court, flanked by his wife and several bodyguards. Mrs. Lewis, who had seen the broadcast defaming Mr. Heslin during a break in her testimony, was waiting for him.

“I struggled to find words today. I feel baffled by it, in a bad way,” she told Mr. Jones. “Terrible. Awful. Awful.”

Mr Jones testified after Ms Lewis and said he had repeatedly tried to apologise.

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the Travis County Court later admonished him for lying under oath in parts of his testimony. Mr Jones had told the jury that he is “bankrupt”, although his bankruptcy filing has yet to be reviewed and the families’ lawyers say it is a tactic to avoid upcoming lawsuits. He also claimed that he had complied with court orders in the libel cases, while his years of failure to submit documents and testimony was the reason he lost them all.

‘You are under oath. That means things really have to be true when you say them,” Judge Guerra Gamble told Mr. jones. He tried to intervene, but she stopped him: “Don’t talk.”

After the judge left the courtroom, Mr. Jones approached Mr. Heslin and Mrs. Lewis and shook hands. Their lawyers pushed them away and Mr. Jones exploded in anger, claiming that the parents were being “kept under control.”

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