Alex Jones conceded Wednesday in a Travis County, Texas, court that the murder of 20 schoolchildren and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, was “100% real.”
The InfoWars radio and web host admitted that it was irresponsible of him to declare that the school shooting was a hoax. The admission came while on the witness stand during his second day providing testimony in a post-default judgment trial that will determine how much he must pay for spreading falsehoods that the massacre didn’t occur.
Asked by his lawyer, Andino Reynal, if it was irresponsible to broadcast to his audience that the shooting never happened, Jones replied, “It was,” he said pausing for a breath, “especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real.”
Jones’ perpetuation of his claims the killing carried out by 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza was fake and featured staged actors, endeared him to conspiracy theorists and hardline gun owner rights advocates while getting him banned from Twitter, curbed by Spotify, and besieged by defamation lawsuits filed by victims’ familes. Companies tied to Jones and InfoWars filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
The Travis County defamation case was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year old Jesse Lewis who died in the school shooting. The parents are seeking a $150 million award in damages for defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Notwithstanding that concession, Jones still faced questions about his honesty. During cross-examination, parents’ attorney Mark Bankston said Jones hadn’t complied with discovery and that the defense team had accidentally sent him a record of his previously demanded text messages from the past two years only 12 days ago.
“That’s how I know you lied to me,” said Bankston, who claimed Jones had said he had no Sandy Hook texts on his phone.
“If I was mistaken, I was mistaken because you’ve got the messages right there,” Jones said. “I’m not a tech guy. " When asked by Bankston if he knew what perjury was, Jones replied that he didn’t lie.
‘He Was Real’
Kyle Farrar, giving closing arguments for the parents on Wednesday asked jurors, “What does it cost to steal the last memory of Jesse for the pursuit of selling more products?”
“This verdict will tell the world that Jesse lived, that he was real, that he mattered. What does it take to fix what he broke?” Farrar said.
Reynal, in his closing, moved to blame the “mainstream media for descending on Sandy Hook like vultures,” and making reporting mistakes he said fed into a “conspiracy narrative.”
“I understand that there may be some of you who believe Alex Jones needs to be punished,” the defense attorney said. “But today I am going to talk to you about actual damages,” He told jurors that they must ascertain how Jones’ words and actions caused actual damages.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the 459th District Court in Travis County presided over the case.
This suit is one of several brought by parents who allege that Jones’ false statements about the shooting have resulted in harassment from his followers.
On Tuesday, Jones was reprimanded by the judge for potentially violating his oath by stating he was bankrupt and that he complied with discovery.
InfoWar’s ultimate parent, Free Speech Systems, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. Lawyers for the families said in a hearing Monday they had concerns that the structure and timing of the move were designed to insulate the company from paying a judgment.
Bankston and Farrar are with Farrar & Ball LLP. Reynal Law Firm PC represents Jones.
The case is Heslin v. Jones, Tex. Dist. Ct., No. D-1-GN-18-001835, testimony 8/3/22.