WATERBURY, Conn. — Emotional testimony from the families of Sandy Hook victims continued Wednesday during the defamation of Alex Jones and his claims that the shooting was a hoax.
Robbie and Alissa Parker took the stand for tearful testimonies. They are the parents of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Emilie was the oldest of her two sisters, Madeline and Samantha.
"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.
Alissa and Robbie shared with the jury their love for Emilie.
“She knew how to connect with anybody and everybody,” Robbie Parker said.
“[Robbie is] a thoughtful person and Emilie got that from her dad,” Alissa Parker said.
The day after the shooting had happened, Robbie Parker held an emotional news conference 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. “If 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.'”
His speech caught the eyes of Jones and his InfoWars show. Theories of Robbie Parker being a crisis actor arose after Jones speculated Robbie had asked to "read the card" before giving the press conference.
"Did you say any such thing?" The plaintiff's attorney asked Robbie Parker.
"No," he replied.
A photo of Robbie smiling was also used as ammo for the hoax conspiracy.
The Parkers saw the effects of that rumor and others within the next few days; “It escalated really quickly.”
“Shame, confusion, and I can tell there was a panic,” Alissa Parker 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 Parker 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.
The video of Robbie's full speech was played as evidence during the trial last week.
“That’s the real Robbie Parker, isn’t it?” Plaintiff Attorney Chris Mattei said to Jones when he testified last Thursday, raising his voice, and pointing to Parker, who was sitting in the gallery of the courtroom, along with numerous other Sandy Hook families. “And for years you put a target on his back, didn’t you?”
William “Bill” Sherlach also took the stand to talk about his wife, Mary Sherlach, who 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.
That morning on December 14, 2012, they kissed goodbye and Bill and Mary went off to 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.
“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.
“Then it started with that this is all a hoax, Mary didn’t exist, their name isn’t Sherlach,” recalled Bill. “ I got to the point where they were actually saying I was somehow involved with the shooter's father. It was just ridiculous.”
He said it’s a loss he copes with day by day and hour by hour.
“Try to make it to lunch. Try to make it to dinner. Try to make it to next hour. Because that forever thing…It’s totally incomprehensible,” said Bill.
Looking ahead to Thursday. It’s expected to be an early day for the jury. They’ll be dismissed at 1 p.m. so the judge and the attorneys can handle some administrative issues.
Alex Jones is still expected to return to the stand next week.
Jones was already found liable for damages after 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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