“They called Emilie a whore,” Mrs. Parker said. “Just the most horrific things you could ever even imagine. Just calling Robbie a liar, and that we’re going to burn in hell for what we’ve done.’”
The threats hung over the Parkers as they planned Emilie’s funeral. “What do we do if somebody shows up?” Mr. Parker told the jurors, recalling that time. Minutes before Emilie’s services were to begin, he found his wife hiding in a coat closet outside the room that held Emilie’s coffin. “She was curled up, just sobbing, and saying, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’”
Mr. Parker spoke about an episode in 2016, when he, Mrs. Parker and their two surviving daughters traveled to Seattle to attend a charity event that included a tribute to Emilie. Mr. Parker dropped his family at a hotel and parked the car. While walking to rejoin them, he was accosted by a man who spewed profanity and called him a liar and a profiteer. Mr. Parker marveled that 3,000 miles and four years removed from the shooting, a stranger had recognized and targeted him on the street.
Late last year, Mr. Jones lost by default four separate defamation lawsuits filed by the families of 10 Sandy Hook victims, who had endured years of torment and threats.
The families’ sweeping victory set in motion three trials (two of the cases were combined) for juries to decide how much Mr. Jones must pay the families in compensatory and punitive damages.
In the first trial, a jury in Austin, Texas, in August awarded Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, parents of Jesse Lewis, nearly $50 million, though Texas law caps that verdict at far less.
In the current trial, the second of the three, families of eight Sandy Hook victims sued Mr. Jones in Connecticut, where state law allows for a potentially ruinous financial verdict.
On Thursday Judge Barbara Bellis of Connecticut Superior Court provided the jury with lengthy instructions. She told them to take all the time they needed to decide on fair compensation to the families for a list of violations Mr. Jones was liable for, including damage to their reputations, invasion of privacy and emotional distress.