AUSTIN, TX– The father of a 6-year-old child killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting testified on Tuesday that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made his life a “living hell” by claiming the killings were a hoax.
In more than an hour of moving testimony in which he often fought back tears, Neil Heslin said he suffered online abuse, anonymous phone calls and street harassment.
“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “Over time, I really realized how dangerous it was. … My life was threatened. I fear for my life, I fear for my safety.
Heslin said her home and car were shot, and her attorneys said Monday the family had been having a “meeting” in Austin since the trial began and are in safe isolation.
Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, have sued Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems over the harassment and threats they and other parents say they endured for years because of Jones and his Infowars website. Jones claimed the 2012 attack that killed 20 freshmen and six Connecticut school staff was a hoax or fake.
Heslin and Lewis are asking for at least $150 million in the deal.
“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long wait…to stand up to Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy,” said Heslin.
Heslin also said that while he didn’t know if the Sandy Hook hoax theory originated with Jones, it was Jones who “lit the match and started the fire” with an online platform and broadcast. which has reached millions of people around the world.
Heslin told the jury that he held his son with a bullet hole in his head, even describing the extent of the damage done to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 Infowars show that said Heslin holding her son didn’t happen.
An apology from Jones would not be enough at this point, he said.
“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I will finish this fight.”
Jones was not in court when Heslin testified, a move the father called “cowardly.” Jones skipped much of the testimony during the two-week trial and had a cadre of bodyguards in the courtroom when he showed up. Tuesday was the last day scheduled for testimony and Jones was scheduled to take the stand as the only witness in his defense.
Scarlett Lewis was also called to the stand on Tuesday.
Heslin and Lewis suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that stems from constant trauma, similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or victims of child abuse, a medical psychologist testified Monday. -legal who studied their cases and met them.
Jones described the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights.
What is at stake in the lawsuit is how much Jones will pay. The parents asked the jury to award $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury will then consider whether Jones and company will pay punitive damages.
The lawsuit is just one of the many faces of Jones.
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges entered default judgments against Jones without a trial because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.
Jones has previously tried to financially protect Free Speech Systems. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. The Sandy Hook families sued Jones separately for his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to shield millions belonging to Jones and his family through shell entities.