Alex Jones: I never meant to hurt Sandy Hook parents with hoax claims

Parents of children killed during primary school shooting sue far-right radio show host for claiming massacre was faked

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US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Tuesday told a Texas jury he never intended to hurt parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook primary school massacre when he claimed the shooting was a hoax.

Jones, founder of the Infowars radio show and webcast, said his comments were taken out of context.

He is on trial to determine how much he must pay for spreading falsehoods about the killing of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, becomes emotional during his testimony during the trial for Alex Jones on Tuesdayat the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas. Austin American-Statesman / AP

Jones has since acknowledged the shooting took place.

"I never intentionally tried to hurt you," he said, addressing the parents. "I never even said your name until this case came to court. I didn’t know who you were until this came up."

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of Jesse Lewis, 6, are seeking up to $150 million from Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.

Ms Lewis addressed Jones directly on Tuesday after he questioned Mr Heslin's credibility during a morning broadcast.

“I know you believe me, yet you’re going to leave this courtroom and say it again on your show,” she said. “Do you have the capacity to put yourself in my shoes? Do you have empathy?”

Mr Heslin on Tuesday told jurors that he had endured years of "hell" as a result of Jones's falsehoods.

"I can’t even describe the past nine-and-a-half years of hell I have had to endure because of the negligence and recklessness of Alex Jones and the propaganda he has peddled for his own profits and success," he testified on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Jones said he had already paid a price after being losing his platform, and millions of viewers, in 2018.

The defamation suit in Austin, Texas, where Infowars is based, is one of several brought by families of victims who say Jones's followers harassed them after his false claims.

Free Speech Systems declared bankruptcy in Texas court last week.

Jones said during a Monday broadcast that the filing would help the company to stay on the air while it appealed.

The Sandy Hook gunman, Adam Lanza, used a Remington Bushmaster rifle to carry out the massacre. It ended when Lanza killed himself as police rushed to the scene.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 6:53 PM
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