The mother of one of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has described feeling of compassion for Alex Jones when she met him face to face for the first time at her defamation trial against him.
Scarlett Lewis, the mother of six-year-old Jesse Lewis who was killed in the shooting, said she looked into Jones’ eyes and was “so nervous” that her hand had started to shake.
“But then I looked into Alex Jones’ eyes who was sitting right in front of me [and] I could only feel compassion for him,” she told CBS This Morning on Tuesday, days after a jury ordered the Infowars host to pay her and Jesse’s father more than $49m in damages for his lies about the Sandy Hook massacre.
“And that’s how I maintained my composure.”
Describing how she felt his pain, she said: "What I saw was just a man, a human being in pain, lonely with no one there to testify for him. He had not a person there."
She also said she was standing up to a bully “just like my son had stood up to his bully”, referring to reports that her son saved nine lives during the shooting by telling his classmates to run from the shooter.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Jones had claimed on his show that the mass shooting, in which 20 children and six adults were massacred, was a “false flag” operation involving paid actors.
More than 10 years later, the far-right conspiracy theorist’s inflammatory comments came back to haunt him after families of the shooting victims took him to court for his comments and were awarded nearly $50m. Jones had also falsely claimed the families of the victims were “crisis actors”.
But last month he admitted that the shooting was “100 per cent real” and it was irresponsible for him to call it a hoax.
“I believe that he knows that Sandy Hook happened and that he’s made bad choices and I believe that he could make different choices going forward,” Ms Lewis said.
“I think that he wants to. I think sometimes greed gets in the way.”
Ms Lewis and her husband Neil Heslin had filed a suit against Jones and his media company Free Speech, seeking at least $150 million in compensation after they claimed to have endured years of torment and anguish because of Jones’ claims.
A Texas jury last week ordered Jones to pay $45.2m in punitive damages and $4.1 million in compensatory damages.
But legal expert said Jones could end up owing as little as 10 per cent of the $45m in punitive damages because Texas law caps punitive damages at $750,000 when economic losses are not involved.
Ms Lewis who founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement nonprofit said her ultimate goal is to “send a message about the importance of truth” and kindness.