Alex Jones trial - live: Infowars host says he may plead the fifth in new rant outside Sandy Hook court

Alex Jones’ second defamation trial over his “hoax” lies about the Sandy Hook massacre has entered its fourth week in Connecticut court.

The Infowars host is expected to return to the stand on Wednesday as a witness for the defence - after his first turn on the witness stand last month descended into a shouting match in front of jurors and crying victim families.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Jones said he is “strongly considering” pleading the fifth amendment because he claimed the judge wants to throw him in jail for telling the truth.

“I tell the judge and all the rest of the New World Order: I am innocent, and you are guilty of tyranny,” he said.

Meanwhile inside the courtroom, jurors heard testimony from Francine Wheeler, whose six-year-old son Ben was killed in the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

She told how the lies pushed by Jones and his followers dominated her life for years, saying: “They took my identity, they took my husband’s identity, they took my surviving son’s identity.”

Key Points

  • What’s at stake in Jones’ Connecticut Sandy Hook trial?

  • Mother of six-year-old victim tells of unavoidable lies

  • Court hears from top target in Jones’ ‘hoax’ campaign

  • Jones loses his temper on witness stand

Jones launches fresh rant outside court

19:17 , Megan Sheets

Jones delivered a new furious rant outside the courthouse on Tuesday, repeating his insistence that he is a victim of tyranny and again saying he’s done apologising.

“I am proud of my 28 years on air… I always question everything, I listen to those who are questioning, it’s healthy and good,” he told reporters.

“I do not apologise to the system or anybody else because I did it from a pure heart. I have not been perfect, I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve apologised for those.”

He went on to share conspiracy theories about US involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict before saying: “The establishment thinks that by demonising Alex Jones and trying to shut me down, they’re going to be able to intimidate everybody else to shut up.”

Mr Jones then hit out at “the establishment” for “hyping up mass shootings” and pharmaceutical companies for prescribing antidepressants.

He blamed the media for putting on a “production” with Sandy Hook coverage and insisted: “I never harassed these families, I never sent anyone to harass them. They have no evidence of that. I didn’t kill their kids.”

Jones concluded his rant by saying he is “strongly considering” pleading the fifth amendment when called to testify tomorrow.

“Not because I’m guilty, but because she [the judge] says if I tell the truth, she’ll put me in the Waterbury jail for six months. That’s what she can do,” he said.

“I tell the judge and all the rest of the New World Order: I am innocent, and you are guilty of tyranny.”

Mother tells of family’s ongoing suffering from hoax lies

18:09 , Megan Sheets

Jackie Barden fought back tears throughout her emotional testimony about the toll the Sandy Hook hoax lies took on her family.

She revealed how her surviving son James once got a late-night call from a conspiracy theorist who claimed to know his father and asked a flurry of questions about the shooting.

Ms Barden also said her daughter, Natalie, was terrified to be home alone for years after the shooting.

It remains difficult for Natalie to return home to this day because she feels like a target, the mother said.

Ms Barden said it wasn’t until two weeks ago that Natalie revealed she knew about a hoaxer’s letter about urinating on Daniel’s grave.

Overall, the mother painted a portrait of a family trying not to upset each other by keeping what they knew about the hoaxers to themselves.

Upon the conclusion of direct questioning, the defence declined to cross-examine Ms Barden.

The court is now on a lunch break until 2pm.

Alex Jones’ defamation trial was shown this photo of Sandy Hook victim Daniel Barden with his siblings (Waterbury court)
Alex Jones’ defamation trial was shown this photo of Sandy Hook victim Daniel Barden with his siblings (Waterbury court)

New witness: Victim’s mother Jackie Barden

17:49 , Megan Sheets

The next witness for the plaintiffs is Jackie Barden, whose seven-year-old son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook.

She began to choke up as she described Daniel - who would’ve turned 17 last month - as a very compassionate person who was always putting others ahead of himself.

The last time Ms Barden saw her son alive was the morning of the shooting. She was blow-drying her hair in a downstairs bathroom when Daniel came in to tell her about his new reading partner at school.

Hours later, Ms Barden received a robo-call as Sandy Hook Elementary School was placed on lockdown. She said she originally didn’t realise how serious it was.

“I’m such a denial person, I immediately just thought ‘Daniel’s fine,’” she said. “‘Daniel’s a different kid, he’s going to be fine.’”

Everything that happened after that was a “blur”, she said.

After the shooting, Ms Barden she became aware of attacks against fellow parent Robbie Parker. “I remember thinking: ‘How can that be?’” she said.

Soon after, her partner Mark’s music page was inundated with attacks from conspiracy theorists claiming that Daniel never existed and that he was killed by his own family.

As the hoax lies spread, Ms Barden said she received a letter from someone saying they urinated on Daniel’s grave. In another letter, someone threatened to dig up the grave to prove the shooting was a lie.

New witness: Infowars business manager Tim Fruge

17:05 , Megan Sheets

The jury is now being shown a deposition from Infowars business manager Tim Fruge, who oversaw the site’s store sales.

Mr Fruge said Jones asked about which products were selling best on a daily basis and used that information when developing pitches for his Infowars broadcasts.

He said there was a clear link between Infowars traffic and store revenue - which goes to the plaintiffs’ argument that Jones profited off of his lies about Sandy Hook.

In a troubling moment for the defence, Mr Fruge contradicted Jones attorney Norm Pattis’ prior claim that Infowars did not use Google Analytics. He said the platform was in fact used to track which listeners bought products.

Mr Fruge testified that the Infowars store rakes in about $1m per week, with products promoted by Jones on his show selling the best.

Asked bout the store’s 400 per cent mark-up, Mr Fruge said: “I mean, the numbers are there.”

Mother says Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists ‘took my identity'

16:19 , Megan Sheets

Francine Wheeler spoke at length about how unavoidable conspiracy theorists’ lies about Sandy Hook remained for years after the shooting.

When she launched the foundation Ben’s Lighthouse in honour of her son, it was constantly overshadowed by the lies that came up first when she searched her own name on Google.

Ms Wheeler said she enlisted a friend’s help in making it so the foundation came up when her name was searched, rather than the lies, but the fix only lasted a few weeks.

She said she eventually watched all of Jones’ videos about the shooting being a hoax, in an attempt to understand his motivations.

Ms Wheeler described how hoaxers took videos of her musical performances and twisted them to mock her as a liar.

“It’s ironic because I spent my adult career performing. I loved my life in New York and even in Newtown,” she said.

“They took that from me and doctored and edited 20 years of my work. They took that from me.”

“They took my identity, they took my husband’s identity, they took my surviving son’s identity.”

Later in her testimony, Ms Wheeler told how she attended a conference for mothers who had lost their children to gun violence called Circle of Mothers.

While there, she said she spoke to a woman whose son was killed in a robbery gone awry. When she explained that her own son was killed at Sandy Hook, Ms Wheeler said the mother told her that wasn’t possible because the massacre never happened.

With that, direct examination came to a close and Jones’ attorney Norm Pattis stepped up for a brief cross.

The court is now in recess.

Mother recalls learning of Jones’ Sandy Hook lies

15:56 , Megan Sheets

During her testimony, Francine Wheeler described her slain son Ben as an introverted boy who dreamed of becoming a paleontologist and shared a very close relationship with his older brother Nate.

She said she first became aware of Jones in the days after the shooting, when she heard about “this man” who was attacking Robbie Parker - the father of another victim - and spreading lies about what had happened.

Ms Wheeler said she walled herself off from those claims as she dealt with her grief “minute by minute”.

Several months after the shooting, she said it became impossible to avoid lies about Sandy Hook families and their victims being “actors” in a “hoax”.

It hit closest to home when her son Nate, then in fourth grade, was exposed to Jones’ lies by a friend.

She said she was unable to answer when Nate asked her why people were lying.

The court was then shown a photo purporting that 10 Sandy Hook victims had been found alive - featuring Nate.

Ms Wheeler said that while many parents lose children, “It’s quite another thing when people take everything about your boy, who is gone, and your surviving child, and your husband, and harass you, and make fun of you.

“I can’t make that better for Nate. Forever he has that.”

New witness: Sandy Hook mother Francine Wheeler

15:20 , Megan Sheets

The plaintiffs’ first witness of the day is Francine Wheeler, whose six-year-old son Ben was killed at Sandy Hook.

Ms Wheeler’s husband David testified earlier in the trial.

Court in session

15:14 , Megan Sheets

The court is now in session, with Jones’ attorney Norm Pattis informing the judge that he will potentially be called to testify on Wednesday.

Mr Pattis also said that Jones is planning another press conference outside the courthouse - after getting in hot water for his previous remarks to reporters.

Jones arrived outside the court before proceedings kicked off but has not entered the gallery.

Jones in the middle of basketball star row

14:51 , Megan Sheets

Away from the courtroom, Alex Jones has unexpectedly found himself in the middle of an internet spat between two basketball players.

In a Substack column on Monday, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit out at current star Kyrie Irving for sharing a 2002 video of Jones explaining the “New World Order” conspiracy theory.

Mr Abdul-Jabbar called for fans to leave Mr Irving - who has a history of pushing disinformation - to “stew his own gelatinous ignorance”.

“But now Irving is back and more destructive, insensitive, and just plain silly than before,” he wrote. “He decided it would be a good idea to post a 2002 video clip from Infowars founder Alex Jones. Yeah, the guy who has been on trial for denying the Sandy Hook shootings and who previously admitted in open court that he’s a performer and his onscreen persona is just a character (that bilks millions of dollars from unaware viewers).

“The main gist of the clip is a warning about a cabal of international leaders who are secretly releasing plagues on the world from which they can profit. (Of course, we know who really profits from making this claim).”

RECAP: Alex Jones’ first turn on the witness stand

14:30 , Megan Sheets

In his tumultuous first appearance on the witness stand, plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Mattei confronted him with the people who he accused of being “crisis actors” almost as soon as their children and loved ones were murdered in one of the worst school shootings in US history.

Mr Mattei pointed out father Robbie Parker in the courtroom and asked Jones if he “is real”.

The right-wing extremist admitted “yes” – after he spent years claiming that the parents of the murder victims were “crisis actors” whose children never even existed.

“For years you put a target on his back, didn’t you?... Just like you did every single parent and loved one sitting here,” said Mr Mattei.

Mr Jones denied that this and tried to argue that he hadn’t named the family members specificially.

When Mr Mattei told Mr Jones that “these are real people”, the Infowars host launched into an unhinged rant about “liberals” and “Iraqis” before asking if he was “in China”.

“Just like all the Iraqis that you liberals killed and love. You are unbelievable. You switch emotions on and off as you want, it is just ambulance chasing,” he ranted.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp recounts the chaos:

Alex Jones shouts ‘I’m done apologising’ at Sandy Hook parents crying in court

When will Jones return to the stand?

14:10 , Megan Sheets

Alex Jones is expected to testify at some point this week as a witness for the defence.

He took his first turn on the stand on 22 September to face questioning by the plaintiffs’ lawyers, during which he refused to acknowledge any responsibility for causing a decade of harassment to the victims’ families.

“I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times. And I’m done saying sorry,” he shouted across the courtroom.

Watch the dramatic moment:

Following that outburst, Jones’ attorney Norm Pattis waived his right to cross-examination, saying he hoped to “lower the temperature” in court. Mr Pattis said he would take his turn to question Jones later on as a defence witness.

ICYMI: Father at the centre of ‘hoax’ lies felt he ‘failed’ his daughter

13:50 , Megan Sheets

Robbie Parker, the grieving father at the centre of Alex JonesSandy Hook hoax lies, testified over two days last week about how the far-right conspiracy theorist left him feeling like he “failed” his murdered daughter.

Choking back tears on Thursday, Mr Parker told jurors of the lies Jones was spreading about his six-year-old daughter Emilie.

“I already felt like I failed Emilie as a dad when she was alive because we sent her to school,” he said.

“And I was especially starting to feel like I was failing her in her death because of what people were saying about her and what they were saying about me trying to remember her.”

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:

Sandy Hook father says Alex Jones lies made him feel like he ‘failed’ his daughter

Trial enters fourth week

13:33 , Megan Sheets

Welcome back to The Independent’s live coverage of Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook defamation trial in Connecticut.

The case brought by nine plaintiffs - eight relatives of Sandy Hook victims and one former FBI agent who responded to the shooting - entered its fourth week on Tuesday.

Here’s a recap of what’s at stake for the Infowars host:

Alex Jones shouts ‘I’m done apologising’ at Sandy Hook parents crying in court