Parents who lost their 6-year-old son in the Sandy Hook massacre confronted right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a courthouse Tuesday, saying his claims that the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history was a “giant hoax” created a “living hell” for them.

Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, parents of Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., are seeking $150 million in damages from the Infowars radio show and webcast host and his media company in a defamation trial.

The father of a Sandy Hook victim says Alex Jones has made his life a ‘living hell’

AUSTIN, Texas — The father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting testified Tuesday that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made his life a “living hell” by pushing claims that the murders were a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control.

In more than an hour of emotional testimony during which he often fought back tears, Neil Heslin said he has endured online abuse, anonymous phone calls and harassment on the street.

“What was said about me and Sandy Hook itself resonates around the world,” Heslin said. “As time went on, I truly realized how dangerous it was. … My life has been threatened. I fear for my life, I fear for my safety.”

Heslin said his home and car have been shot at, and his attorneys said Monday that the family had an “encounter” in Austin after the trial began in the city and have been in isolation under security.

Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the 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 have endured for years because of Jones and his Infowars website. Jones claimed the 2012 attack that killed 20 first-graders and six staffers at the Connecticut school was a hoax or faked.

Heslin and Lewis are seeking at least $150 million in the case.

“Today is very important to me and it’s been a long time coming … to face Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore the honor and legacy of my son,” Heslin said.

Heslin also said that while he doesn’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 that reached millions worldwide.

Heslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole through his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 Infowars broadcast that said Heslin did not hold his son’s body.

An apology from Jones wouldn’t be good enough at this point, he said.

“Alex started this fight,” Heslin said, “and I’ll finish this fight.”

Jones wasn’t in court during Heslin’s testimony, a move the father called “cowardly.” Jones has skipped much of the testimony during the two-week trial and had a cadre of bodyguards in the courtroom when he did attend. Tuesday was the last scheduled day for testimony and Jones was expected to take the stand as the only witness in his defense.

Scarlett Lewis was also called to the witness stand Tuesday. She spoke much of her testimony directly at Jones, who had arrived in the courtroom.

“I am a mother first and foremost, and I know you are a father,” Lewis said. “My son existed … I know you know that.”

At one point, Lewis asked Jones, “Do you think I’m an actor?”

“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” Jones responded, before the judge admonished him to stay quiet until it was his turn to testify.

Heslin and Lewis suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that comes from constant trauma, similar to that endured by soldiers in war zones or child abuse victims, a forensic psychologist who studied their cases and met with them testified Monday.

Jones has portrayed the lawsuit against him as an attack on his First Amendment rights.

At stake in the trial is how much Jones will pay. The parents have 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 his company will pay punitive damages.

The trial is just one of several Jones faces.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax. In both states, judges issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

Jones has already tried to protect Free Speech Systems financially. The company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last week. Sandy Hook families have separately sued Jones over his financial claims, arguing that the company is trying to protect millions owned by Jones and his family through shell entities.

Parents of Sandy Hook shooting victim call for accountability in Alex Jones’ defamation trial

The parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis are suing Jones for falsely claiming that the 2012 mass school shooting was a hoax meant to take away Americans’ guns. The trial is the first of three to determine monetary penalties against the Texas-based conspiracy theorist for his lies about the tragedy.

Testifying Tuesday during the two-week defamation trial against Alex Jones, the parents of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim said the Texas-based conspiracy theorist needs to be held accountable for lies he has said about the tragedy.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who died in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, are suing Jones for $150 million for defamation.

Jones took the stand late Tuesday afternoon and will continue his testimony Wednesday morning.

During his testimony Tuesday, Heslin said he needs Jones to be held accountable in order to move on with his life and try to recover from the trauma of the tragedy.

“You can never recover from the loss of a child,” Heslin said during the trial. “When you lose a child, you lose a part of yourself. You feel violated by the loss of your child. It’s something you can’t recover from.”

Lewis directed her testimony toward Jones: “Jesse was real. I am a real mom.”

The trial is the first of three to determine monetary penalties for defamation and emotional distress that Jones caused with lies about the Sandy Hook shooting, in which 20 students and six educators were killed. Jones repeatedly claimed on Infowars, his Austin-based website and broadcast, that the mass shooting was a staged government conspiracy meant to take away Americans’ guns.

In October, an Austin judge ordered a default judgment against Jones for defamation after he called the school shooting a hoax, leading Jones’ listeners to harass the victims’ families. In the past year, Jones has lost all the defamation lawsuits filed by 10 families of Sandy Hook victims.

When Jones took the stand and his attorney F. Andino Reynal asked how he was. Jones replied, “I actually feel good.” He said he was glad to have a chance to clear up what corporate media has gotten wrong in covering his comments about the Sandy Hook shooting.

Reynal’s line of questioning Tuesday primarily focused on Jones background, how he got started in media, his company Infowars and how much time he dedicates to his job.

Heslin said he wants the outcome of this lawsuit to restore his own credibility and reputation, which was tarnished by Jones, as well as the legacy of his son.

The family has previously described their son as a hero. During the Sandy Hook shooting, he ran into the school hallway when he first heard shots, the family said in a obituary. Jesse confronted the shooter, yelled for other children to run, and nine children were able to escape the classroom they were hiding in.

Jones was not present in the courtroom during Heslin’s testimony and was only present for a portion of Lewis’. Heslin called Jones’ absence “disrespectful” and “cowardly.” During or shortly after Heslin’s testimony, Jones appeared on Infowars and spoke about the plaintiff, using what one of Heslin’s lawyers described as “inflammatory” language. During a video clip of the show shown during the trial Tuesday, Jones said Heslin is “a nice man” who has been “manipulated by some very bad people.” He said he doesn’t think Heslin is “stupid” but does believe he is “slow.”

Lewis said she felt grateful that she could deliver part of her testimony to Jones’ face. She said he had been negatively impacted almost every day of her life since her son’s death, and it was a relief to finally be able to testify.

During her testimony, Lewis repeatedly said she believes Jones knows Sandy Hook was a real, unstaged tragedy. However, he is determined to continue spreading lies on his show in the interest of monetary gain, she said.

“I know there are hoaxes out there, but this is an incredibly real event. I lived it,” Lewis said.

She said she doesn’t believe that Jones will stop perpetuating misinformation until he is held accountable with a punishment that will teach him a lesson.

During her testimony, Lewis compared losing her son to the “phantom pains” people experience when they lose a limb. Although he is gone, she feels the pain of his death every day.

The lies from Jones and his team about the tragedy have compounded that pain, Lewis said. Both Lewis and Heslin have experienced multiple accusatory emails and death threats as a result of Jones’ lies. Lewis said she feels unsafe in her own home, which she has lived in since Jesse’s death.

Heslin and Lewis were placed in isolation under the protection of a beefed-up security force, their lawyer, Mark Bankston, told the Austin American-Statesman on Monday.

“Unfortunately, after some encounters — which did not occur in the courthouse, there were some encounters here in the city of Austin — my clients are now in isolation, and they are being protected by a large security staff,” Bankston said.

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