David Wheeler, father of a Sandy Hook victim, testified in Alex Jones’ defamation trial Wednesday.
Jones has already been found liable for defamation; the trial is about how much he owes in damages.
Wheeler said Jones’ “hoax” talk led people to come to his home asking for his son who died in the shooting.
David Wheeler, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, testified Wednesday that the harassment stemming from Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory that the mass school shooting was a “hoax” led strangers to show up at his home demanding to see his dead son.
“Someone came to the house and knocked on the door. The person demanded to see Ben, saying ‘I know he’s here, I know he’s alive,'” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said it was a friend who first broke the news to him that Jones was spreading the falsehood that the shooting had been staged.
“After the shock of Ben’s murder, it felt like I was underwater and I didn’t know which way was up. You’re grasping with that, trying to get your head around that. To have someone publicly telling the world that it didn’t happen and that you’re a fraud and a phony is incredibly disorienting… I couldn’t figure it out,” he said.
“It felt like I was delegitimized in a way. It makes you feel like you don’t matter. Like what you went through doesn’t matter,” he added.
Jones is currently standing trial in Connecticut after being found liable for defaming the families of victims who died in the Sandy Hook shooting, claiming it was a government orchestrated scheme. The trial is to determine how much in damages he owes the victims.
It’s expected to be a four to six-week long trial involving 15 plaintiffs — most of whom were parents of the victims.
Twenty first-graders and six adults were killed in the December 14, 2012, shooting.
Wheeler was the first witness called to the stand on Wednesday, during the second week of the trial. He spoke about the havoc Jones wreaked on his life.
In the aftermath of the December 2012 shooting, Wheeler said people harassed him on Facebook, calling him “a fake” and “a liar,” and that clips from his unsuccessful acting career were used as evidence that he was hired to play a part in the shooting.
He said strangers showing up at his home forced him to eventually install a security camera system.
Wheeler also had to have several conversations with his surviving son, Nate, who was 9 years old when they lost Ben, he said.
“For years he would ask me why anyone would do such a thing … Why Alex Jones would say these things,” Wheeler said.
At one point, Wheeler became emotional on the stand as he was asked to describe what Ben was like.
“Every parent thinks their kid is the greatest, but he had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a really funny kid. He moved really quickly through the world, nothing moved fast enough for him.”
He recalled a night when Ben was acting out at the dinner table, and as he took him aside to have a talk, Ben bit him on the arm. When he asked his son why he did it, he said Ben responded: “But Dad, I had to bite something.”
Wheeler said he’s now grateful Ben bit him because it left him with a scar that serves as a physical reminder of his late son.
This is the second of three similar trials. The first wrapped up in August, with an Austin jury ordering Jones to pay the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis nearly $50 million in damages. A third trial back in Texas is pending from Leonard Pozner and Veronique de la Rosa, the parents of victim Noah Pozner.
Jones skipped the first week of his Connecticut trial but arrived in town for the second week. On Tuesday, he showed up to court but was not called to testify. Outside, he gave a statement to the media, branding Judge Barbara Bellis a “tyrant” and saying he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.
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