WATERBURY, Conn. — The Alex Jones trial continues on Wednesday with more family testimonies. William “Bill” Sherlach, whose wife, Mary Sherlach, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Mary was a school psychologist and one of the first people to confront the shooter.
“She took ownership of that school relative to the kids. It was all about the kids. Her ideal day was working with the kids all day as opposed to paperwork or reports,” said Bill.
Bill said they had plans to go to Essex for the weekend starting on December 14, 2012, the day of the shooting. Bill asked Mary to take the whole day off and she said she couldn’t. That morning they kissed goodbye and Bill and Mary went off to work hoping to leave for their trip after work.
When he first found out something happened at the elementary school, Bill drove to Newtown.
“I tried calling Mary, no answer, no answer,” said Bill.
He got to the firehouse and started asking about his wife until he found someone who knew Mary.
“She said, ‘oh my god, Bill, there’s been a shooting.'”
Bill said he was told Mary and two other staff left a meeting room and only one of the staff members returned.
“At that point and time, I knew this would have a terrible ending to it. You hold out all hope so I was one of those people through the firehouse looking thinking someone made a mistake,” he said.
He eventually learned Mary was shot five times.
Sherlach started looking online to see what was being said about the shooting, and at one point saw theories that said Mary didn’t have the credentials to be a school psychologist.
“You start to see the distortions of what I knew to be true, having been there and looking on the inside of what was going on. and then you start to get deeper and deeper into it because you’ll see something that says something you know is not true,” Sherlach said.
Defense Attorney Norm Pattis waived the right to cross-examine Sherlach.
The trial continues with Alissa Parker on the stand. She is married to Robbie Parker, the parents of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.
The couple met in Utah in middle school and eventually moved to Connecticut in 2012. Emilie was the oldest of her two sisters, Madeline and Samantha.
She said Newtown felt like a place to raise a family.
Alissa shared the bond Emilie had with Robbie. Their daughter had a passion for art, and Robbie would be seen often at the art table with Emilie, watching her draw.
“He’s a helpful person and Emilie got that from her dad.”
Robbie Parker held an emotional news conference within days after the shooting and it was aired on national television.
"If anyone was going to say anything about our daughter, Robbie wanted it to come from us," Alissa Parker explained. "He wanted to be from our words, and he wanted to be able to honor her the way we authentically knew her."
"And when he talked in his statement about Emilie, he talked about how she would write those notes to people," Alissa Parker said. “She said something that made you feel bad you would get a card in the morning that says “I’m sorry and I love you.”
Robbie Parker was in the gallery during Alissa's testimony, wiping tears with others among him.
The Parkers saw a negative, "horrible" response to the video over the next few days, “it escalated really quickly.”
“Shame, confusion, and I can tell there was a panic,” Alissa said through tears. She and Robbie had been planning Emilie's funeral and were "distracted and nervous" from the reactions stemming from the video.
The "horrible things" posted on Emilie's memorial page online were "a full-on assault," Alissa said.
"It was so intense, and the words that people were using were so scary and horrific, and just the things were saying about my sweet daughter," Alissa said, sobbing.
Emilie's service was supposed to be about her whole life, Alissa said, but she told the jury she couldn't help but be afraid for her safety.
The pain from the "assaults" still haunts the Parkers to this day.
“The most painful is just how it’s changed [Robbie’s] view about himself. He felt so much shame and he felt like it was his fault that all of this happened, and he felt like because of him our family got attacked and all the other families got attacked,” Alissa said in between sobs.
Robbie Parker is now on the stand.
"Is it important for you to have the opportunity to testify before this jury about your experience and your family’s experience?" Attorney Josh Koskoff asked Robbie Parker.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Robbie Parker replied.
Tuesday's session featured emotional testimony from the father and mother of a Sandy Hook shooting victim.
Ian and Nicole Hockley lost 6-year-old Dylan to the shooting that also took 19 more students and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012.
The two each took the stand Tuesday morning to share memories of Dylan and the harassment they experienced after the shooting.
The Hockleys lived in the UK when they had their two sons, Jake and Dylan. The decision to move to the United States was in part due to seeking services more beneficial for Dylan, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
Ian Hockley remembered speaking with the principal of Sandy Hook about the special education programs as he was touring area school districts and homes in late 2010 to make the big jump across the pond.
“Dawn just loved all of the kids,” Ian Hockley said of Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung. “There was very clearly a focus on special education needs.”
Hochsprung died trying to save students by confronting the shooter as he barged into the school.
“Anyone who spent more than five minutes knew that that’s what she was born to do,” Dawn’s daughter Erica Lafferty said during testimony last week. “She loved kids more than life itself.”
Ian and Nicole were among the many family members of Sandy Hook victims who said they were targeted by those who believed the shooting was a hoax.
Pictures of Ian smiling during Dylan’s memorial service were used as social media fodder for the hoax conspiracy. A hoax that haunts Ian to this day.
"I was called out for smiling because I was uplifted and happy by it [stories told at Dylan's memorial service], so I was being attacked for that; how could I be smiling," Ian Hockley said.
Nicole Hockley recalled getting threatening direct messages, emails, mail, phone calls, including phone calls to friends looking for her, as well as Facebook messages sent to her as recently as August 2022.
“This would keep me up at night, seeing these things and responding to them,” Nicole Hockley said.
She worked with the FBI to report these threatening messages just months after the shooting. It led to at least one arrest, according to the email evidence presented to the jury.
The harassment continued as Ian Hockley became more in the public eye, launching Dylan's Wings of Change program.
Jillian Soto-Marino, sister of late educator Vicki Soto, took the stand as well, sharing her perspective of the day of the tragedy.
"Before knowing anything more that there was a shooting at the school I knew my sister would do everything she could to keep her kids safe,” Soto-Marino said.
Soto-Marino recalled a live interview she did with her siblings remembering Vicki and them all smiling when it started to snow, which reminded them of Vicki.
Soto-Marino saw hateful comments about the "split moment" on YouTube.
She also recalled when in 2015 someone confronted her while at the annual Vicki Soto 5K race.
"He asked me to explain this picture [of her and her siblings] and explain why I was pretending my sister existed," Soto-Marino recalled.
"He was eerily calm but aggressive by shoving it in my face. He also had a Team Vicki shirt on so I thought it was someone who supported our foundation," She added.
And in another key court moment, a new piece of evidence was shown, revealing what employees of InfoWars really thought about the Alex Jones Show. It was a clip of the audio deposition of the former producer, Jacob Nico Acosta, explaining why he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Too many things to describe,” said Acosta. “The coverage that they were doing, the lack of ethics in the coverage they were doing, the effect it’s having out in the world.”
Alex Jones is expected to take the stand again next week, rather than in the coming days. He was expected to testify again this week when his attorney was expected to call him to speak, but those plans since changed.
"Mr. Jones will testify [again], and he'll be the last witness and will have the last word," Pattis said outside the courthouse this past Friday.
A day off is expected this Friday, Sept. 30. The trial is currently ahead of schedule and is estimated to wrap up by mid-October.
Jones was already found liable for damages for calling the Sandy Hook shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, a hoax on his InfoWars show.
A separate defamation trial over the summer ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the Lewis family, who lost their son Jesse in the shooting.
In this Connecticut case, the families of eight victims and an FBI agent that responded to the shooting filed for damages against Jones, saying his claims saying Sandy Hook was stage had turned them into targets.
Pattis argues that any damages should be limited and accuses the victims' relatives of exaggerating the harm the lies caused them.
A third similar suit, out of Texas, is awaiting trial.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took away the lives of 20 students and six educators.
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