Alex Jones has taken the stand in a Connecticut libel trial, admitting he promoted a conspiracy theory that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, but angrily refuses to continue apologizing for it.
More than a dozen relatives of the 26 shooting victims showed up Thursday (local time) to watch his often contentious testimony in Superior Court in Waterbury, about 30 kilometers from Newtown, where the shooting took place.
Jones was found liable last year by default for damages caused to the plaintiffs out of court for what a judge called his repeated refusals to turn over documents to their attorneys.
A six-member jury is deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Jones’s Infowars, should pay the families for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Jones admitted on Thursday that he called the parents “crisis actors” on his show and said the pictures were “as fake as a three-dollar bill.”
The plaintiff’s attorney, Christopher Mattei, accused Jones of putting targets on the parents’ backs by pointing to family members in the courtroom and saying “these are real people.”
“Just like all the Iraqis you liberals have killed and love,” Jones replied.
“It’s just that you’re incredible. You turn emotions on and off when you want to. An ambulance is just chasing you.”
“Why don’t you show a little respect?” Mr. Mattei shot back as Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, shouted objections and several family members shook their heads in apparent disbelief.
The exchange continued as Mr. Matei noted that families in the courtroom had “lost children, sisters, wives, mothers.”
“Is this a wrestling session?” said Jones, who acknowledged in recent years that the shooting was real.
“Are we in China? I’ve said I’m sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry.’
After jurors were dismissed for the day, Judge Barbara Bellis warned both sides that further outbursts would lead to contempt hearings.
Earlier in the trial, family members of the victims often gave emotional testimony, describing how they endured death threats, personal harassment and abusive comments on social media. Some moved to escape the violence.
On Jones’ show, the Sandy Hook shooting was staged by the cast as part of the anti-gun movement.
Jones has already been found guilty by default in two similar Sandy Hook fraud trials in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one trial last month ordered Jones to pay nearly $US50 million ($75 million) in damages to his parents one of the dead children. A third trial in Texas is expected to begin near the end of the year.
On Thursday, Jones was asked about a page on his Infowars website that called the trial a “kangaroo trial” and included a graphic of the judge showing lasers shooting from his eyes. He said the page was created by his staff, but called it a “good report.”
He was asked about advertising on this page and other Sandy Hook content, as well as daily earnings reports. Jones said he could not answer those questions, but denied he viewed the lawsuit as a marketing opportunity.
Jones, who is expected back in court Friday, made brief comments to reporters as he left the courthouse.
“The First Amendment will prevail,” he said.
“The American people will never be silenced.”