WATERBURY, Conn. — More parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims took the stand in the Alex Jones defamation trial into his hoax lies. Meanwhile, Jones was back in Connecticut as his chance to be back on the stand looms closer.
This may be the last week of evidence before the jury must decide how much Jones will pay several of the victims' families in damages.
Jones, joined by spokesperson Robert Barnes, spoke to the media and took questions Tuesday in front of Waterbury Superior Court, continuing to call the court case a “show trial.”
Jones called going on the stand "a trap," and "a spider web," and said he was not sure if he will take the stand Wednesday or this week. If he does, he will consider pleading the Fifth Amendment, as he is at risk of being held in contempt and he said he was told the judge will send him to jail if he “told the truth”.
FOX61's Lindsey Kane asked Jones if he saw any of the testimony from last week.
“It wasn’t testimony. It was a memorial service where they talk about their life, their children and all the other kids who got killed and then they talk about me,” Jones said.
Francine Wheeler was on the stand to talk about her son Benjamin, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting nearly 10 years ago. Her husband, David Wheeler, testified earlier in the case.
Dec. 14, 2012 was a busy morning before the Wheeler kids were dropped off at school, but Ben had enough time to explain to his mom he wanted to be just like his older brother, Nate, when he grew up.
“’I’m always going to be with Nate, and I love you, mommy,’” Ben had said to his mom before being dropped off at school. “I love you too,” Wheeler replied to him at the time.
During the shooting, Nate, who survived, heard “everything,” according to Wheeler. The fourth grader was hiding in a t-shirt box in the gym’s supply closet, she said.
“If the shooter had turned right instead of left he would be gone probably,” Wheeler added.
As Wheeler got more involved in Ben’s Lighthouse a few years after the shooting, she started searching what people were saying and she found theories that accused her of being a crisis actor.
“It is one thing to lose a child,” said Wheeler, “It’s quite another thing when people take everything about your boy…and harass you.”
When the Sandy Hook choir performed at the Super Bowl following the massacre, a picture was mislabeled as proof Ben was still alive.
“There was a boy in the choir that they were saying was Ben,” explained Wheeler.
With the help of a friend, she got her name cleared from Google and had it connected to the Ben’s Lighthouse website. However, within weeks, the theories came back up.
“I couldn’t figure out how this happened so I watched them all. I’ve seen all the videos," Wheeler said of Jones' shows as her voice cracked.
The Sandy Hook lies penetrated into even the most protected places: a support group of grieving mothers. Francine encountered a woman who lost her own son three weeks prior.
“She looked at my necklace. I have a picture of Ben,” recalled Wheeler. “She said, 'Who's that?'
"I said 'That’s my son Ben. He died in his first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook School.' She said, 'What?' She said 'You are lying. That didn’t happen.'"
“They took my identity," Wheeler added. "And then they took my husband’s identity, they took my surviving child’s identity who was hiding in the gym.”
Jackie and Mark Barden also took the stand. The couple, who testified separately, had three kids who went to school in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown; Daniel was the youngest, his older brother, James, and older sister, Natalie. Daniel was a student at Sandy Hook Elementary and was killed in the shooting.
Mark stayed home during the day to take care of the kids before performing in music gigs at night, so there was plenty of time to spend with the kids before and after school.
“He and I had the fortunate experience of having quality time just the two of us,” Mark Barden said. “I cherished every minute not knowing what was coming.”
The jury was also shown a clip of the “family band” performing at an open mic with dad on guitar, Natalie on vocals, James on base, and little Daniel on drums, playing “What a Wonderful World.”
After the shooting, the couple slowly started to learn what people were saying online.
“[Mark] would get angry when he would hear these comments. Daniel never existed. Our son, James, was Daniel,” Jackie Barden said. “Some people would write we killed Daniel, it was crazy stuff they were posting,” she said.
Mark Barden had a website for his music career but was forced to take it down after being bombarded with threats.
“We finally had to let the website go, because this hateful stuff, threatening stuff, dangerous stuff kept coming in,” Mark Barden said.
Eventually, they got letters. Jackie said one person wrote they peed on Daniel’s grave and someone else wrote they were going to dig up Daniel’s grave because they didn’t believe he was in there.
Mark Barden said "it nearly broke us" as a family to manage processing Daniel's death and dealing with threats online and in letters.
“It’s a very hard thing to do, I’m kind of caught between honoring him and needing to go there but then it’s so hard…to hear of people desecrating it, urinating on it and threatening to dig it up. I don’t know how to articulate how that feels like but that’s where we are," Mark Barden said.
Jackie said her children, Natalie and James, now adults, are still affected by the loss of their younger brother and the hate that stemmed from the lies that spread.
“[Natalie] is very afraid of being home alone,” Jackie Barden said. “She’s always afraid of cars pulling into our driveway.”
"We are so concerned for our children," Mark Barden added. "It becomes who you are, having to think about defending your honor, your integrity, and defending little Daniel's honor."
Jackie said Natalie felt better when she went to college because no one knew who she was.
During college, James would get phone calls from hoaxers and had to call Mark for help dealing with these calls, according to Jackie.
Mark and Jackie Barden are both on the Board of Directors for Sandy Hook Promise, along with others who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mark is the co-founder of the organization, and Jackie is the board director for Sandy Hook Promise.
The national nonprofit organization aims to honor all victims of gun violence, promoting "meaningful actions in schools, homes, and communities to prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life."
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.
Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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