The father of a 6-year-old boy murdered in the Sandy Hook school shooting says “psychopaths like Alex Jones” made healing impossible during his testimony at the Infowars founder’s defamation trial on Tuesday.
Neil Heslin labeled Jones a “coward” for skipping his testimony and criticized the speaker for his false claims of the mass shooting, sharing that Jones’ theories left his family living in a constant state of fear.
“What was said about me and about Sandy Hook himself resonates around the world,” Heslin testified in Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.
“As time went on I really realized how dangerous it was… My life was threatened. I fear for my life, I fear for my safety.”
Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of Jesse Lewis, are suing Jones for $150 million for spreading false conspiracy theories about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed 26 lives in 2012.
Heslin said the chance to testify was “long gone”.
“Facing Alex Jones for what he said and did to me. To restore my son’s honor and legacy.”
During interrogation by Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal, Mr. Heslin was asked about his knowledge of the Infowars website and where the conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax originated.
He said Jones was “the one who lit the match and lit the fire”, with others “bringing wood for him to continue”.
Mr. Reynal then asked if Mr. Heslin had a vendetta against Jones.
“I don’t have a vendetta,” he replied. “Alex started this fight, I will finish this fight.”
Taking the witness stand just before the lunch break, Lewis said he first heard about the conspiracy theory shortly after his son was shot in 2012.
She told the court she was shocked when members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang showed up at her son’s wake five days after his death.
“I later found out they were there to keep the peace, which was surreal for me, to make sure there was no disturbance at the wake,” she said.
Lewis was asked about a doctored photograph that claimed to show victims of Sandy Hook singing at the Super Bowl in 2013, about two months after the school shooting.
“It was deeply disturbing,” she said.
Lewis said he bought a gun for self-defense after a man with a gun showed up at his home one day.
After the lunch break, Jones arrived on the court for the afternoon session.
Addressing the Infowars host directly, Ms. Lewis said Sandy Hook was a “hard truth”.
Lewis said his son Jesse took nine children to safety when the gunman’s assault rifle jammed or ran out of bullets, saving their lives.
“To come and say that Jesse never existed, that was a sham. I know there are rumors out there, but this was an incredibly real event, and I lived it.
“It’s unbelievable that you keep saying this didn’t happen,” she said.
“Do you think I’m an actress?”
She said the fact that a quarter of Americans doubted that Sandy Hook had taken place put all children in danger.
The court then watched a clip from Infowars that Jones had filmed as Heslin testified earlier in the day.
In it, Jones unsubstantiatedly speculated that Heslin was on the autism spectrum, “slow” and “being manipulated by some very bad people.”
After the footage was shown, Lewis described it as “awful”.
Jones is expected to testify later on Tuesday.
On Monday, forensic psychiatrist Roy Lubit told the court that both parents were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after receiving years of death threats and abuse.
The company that owns Inforwars, Free Speech Systems, was placed in bankruptcy late last week.