WATERBURY, Conn. — For nearly a decade, Robbie and Alissa Parker said nothing about the damage Alex Jones’s lies about the death of his daughter Emilie at Sandy Hook Elementary School had done to his family.
This week they ended their silence in a Connecticut courtroom, delivering a heartbreaking and angry rebuke to Mr. Jones, who for years on his Infowars show and website played Mr. Parker’s televised tribute to his daughter the night after her death in the 2012 shooting, calling him an “actor” and his presentation about Emilie “disgusting”.
“I had been taught that you don’t get involved with a bully,” Parker told a jury Thursday. But he decided to sue Mr. Jones for defamation because she “already felt that I failed Emilie when she was alive because she sent her to school”. By not fighting the false theories, he was “beginning to feel like I was failing him in her death.”
Mr. Parker is a key witness in the Connecticut tort case, which the families of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent implicated in the conspiracy theories won by default. The jury will decide how much damages Mr. Jones and Infowars should pay.
Jones aired a video of Parker’s comments the night after his daughter’s murder, calling him a liar in attacks that continued for years. In doing so, Mr. Jones made Mr. Parker the face of his false claims that the December 14, 2012 mass shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was organized by the government. as a pretext for gun control, and the families were complicit in the plot.
Understand the cases against Alex Jones
A united front. Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist, is the focus of a long-running legal battle waged by the families of the victims of a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. Here’s what He must know:
Little did Parker know he was the first Sandy Hook relative to speak publicly when he agreed to meet with what he thought would be a reporter outside his church in Newtown. Facing a sea of cameras and reporters, he let out a short, nervous laugh before launching into an emotional reminiscence of Emilie as an older sister, a competent artist, and an empathetic 6-year-old who drew pictures and cards for the people she cared about. that they were upset. Mr. Jones used that laugh to attack Mr. Parker as an actor, on multiple broadcasts over the years, excerpts of which were passed on to the jury.
On Wednesday, Alissa Parker testified that malicious comments and threats from believers in the hoax on a Facebook memorial page honoring Emilie terrified her so much that she couldn’t remember much of her daughter’s funeral. Mr. Parker testified that five minutes before services, he found Mrs. Parker hiding in a coat closet, afraid to attend her funeral.
The duel should be “sacred,” Parker said Thursday, but he said Jones and his supporters had stolen it from him.
Mr. Parker’s testimony was his first opportunity to address Mr. Jones with what he has endured. The Infowars fabulist was not in court Thursday; he has skipped most of the trial except for one day of testimony last week, when he loudly declared that he was “done” apologizing for defaming the families of the eight victims with his lies about the 2012 shooting and his suffering.
In testimony on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. and Mrs. Parker demonstrated to the jury how Mr. Jones’s words, and the virtual siege that followed, terrified them, disrupted Emilie’s funeral and led to online abuse, death threats and a street confrontation with a man who verbally attacked Mr. Parker, following him for blocks and asking him how much he had earned from the government for lying about the shooting.
Parker told jurors Thursday that he could tell without watching Infowars when Jones had brought it up on his show because threats to his family arose. But family members didn’t fight back until this lawsuit, Parker said, because they feared getting involved with conspiracy theorists would increase the attacks.
Late last year, Mr. Jones lost four separate defamation lawsuits brought by the families of 10 Sandy Hook victims. The families’ landslide victory set off three trials for juries to decide how much Mr. Jones should pay the families in punitive and compensatory damages.
In the first trial earlier this summer, a jury in Austin, Texas, awarded Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, parents of Jesse Lewis, who died in Sandy Hook, nearly $50 million, though that total may be revised because federal law Texas limits verdicts a lot. less.
The Connecticut trial is the second of three, and testimony is scheduled to wrap up late next week. Connecticut law allows for a potentially ruinous financial verdict against Mr. Jones, who violated a state law that prohibits the use of lies to sell products.
Mr. Jones has garnered more than $50 million in annual revenue in recent years from selling dietary supplements, weapons paraphernalia and survival gear on his broadcasts.
In excerpts from a videotaped statement shown to the jury after Mr. Parker’s testimony on Thursday, David Jones, Mr. Jones’s father and the Infowars employee who got him into the supplement business, testified that the Mr. Jones broadcasts used “bloats” to capitalize on viewers’ fears and sell products.
“Our customers are so loyal to us,” said David Jones, “that if we tell them something is good and good for you, they will buy it and they will buy a lot.”