© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Alex Jones refuses to testify in Sandy Hook defamation trial

Newtown Shooting Infowars
H John Voorhees III/AP
Pool Hearst Connecticut Media
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis, left, talks with attorneys Alinor Sterling and Norm Pattis at the bench during the Alex Jones Sandy Hook defamation damages trial in Waterbury, Connecticut, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones decided not present any defense Wednesday at his defamation trial in Connecticut and was back in Texas in advance of closing arguments over how much he should pay for promoting the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.

The trial is to assess damages owed to families of eight victims and an FBI agent that Jones targeted after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. The far-right conspiracy theorist claimed the shooting was a hoax and accused families of being “government actors.”

Norm Pattis, Jones’ lawyer, said the InfoWars host is boycotting the trial, which is taking place in a Waterbury superior court.

Jones was called to the stand by the plaintiffs attorneys earlier in the trial — a contentious appearance in which he called an attorney for the victims families an ambulance chaser and said he was “done saying I’m sorry,” for calling Sandy Hook a hoax.

Jones' own lawyers had indicated earlier they would have him testify again Wednesday to bolster his arguments that the damages awarded to the plaintiffs should be minimal.

But Jones said he would likely be held in contempt if he took the stand again, because the judge would not allow him to say he is “innocent.”

Pattis shared Jones’ thoughts at the beginning of the session.

“If he testifies in court, he will be committing perjury. If he violates the courts orders, it will be criminal contempt. If he takes the fifth, he gets an adverse inference,” Pattis said. “And so from Mr. Jones' perspective, by operation of law, he has been placed in an untenable position and has chosen to boycott.”

Judge Barbara Bellis was uninterested in hearing Jones' logic.

“I can’t address what his thought process is,” Bellis said. “I’m not going there.”

During the trial, the FBI agent and 14 family members testified, with many saying that after Jones pushed the conspiracy theory on his popular Infowars show, they received death and rape threats, mail from conspiracy theorists that included photos of dead children, and had in-person confrontations with people telling them their children or wives or mothers never existed.

Jones in recent years has acknowledged the shooting happened, but claims the families are being used to push a gun control and anti-free speech agenda.

Pattis rested his case without calling any witnesses, then argued in motions to the judge that damages should be limited.

The jury was then dismissed for the day. Jurors were expected to begin deliberations Thursday after hearing closing arguments and instructions from the judge.

Correction to earlier headline referenced Alex Jones, fleeing Connecticut but rather Jones went back in Texas in advance of closing arguments.

Molly is a news fellow, working on the Long Story Short, Higher Ground, and other podcasts at WSHU.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.