Alex Jones: Jury rules conspiracy theorist must pay nearly $1 billion in damages to Sandy Hook families for his lies about school massacre

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Right-wing talk show host Alex Jones must pay eight families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims and a first responder $965 million in damages, a Connecticut jury decided Wednesday, capping a wrenching weeks-long trial that showed the serious damage done applied. of the conspiracy theorist’s lies.

With its punitive price, the decision could shrink or even doom Jones’ Infowars media empire, which has been at the center of major conspiracy theories dating back to former President George W. Bush’s administration and embraced by President Donald Trump.

The plaintiffs and their attorneys were visibly emotional as the jury’s decision was read. The decision marks a key moment in the years-long process that began in 2018 when the families brought legal action against Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, the parent of the fringe media organization Infowars.

Jones said repeatedly after the 2012 mass shooting that killed 26 people that the incident was staged and that the families and first responders were “crisis actors.” Throughout the trial, the plaintiffs described in poignant terms how the lies had prompted relentless harassment against them and compounded the emotional pain of losing loved ones.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit included family members of eight school students and staff, in addition to an FBI agent who responded to the scene. The three cases were all summarized in the individual trial.

Jones was not in the courtroom for the sentencing. He live-streamed the jury’s decision being read in court, mocked the decision on his Infowars show and used it to raise money.

It is unclear when or how much of the money the plaintiffs will ultimately see. Jones has said he will appeal the ruling and said during his Wednesday broadcast that there is “no money” to pay the massive amount the jury awarded the plaintiffs.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, had urged jurors to award at least half a billion dollars for permanently destroying his clients’ lives. The number, he said, would represent the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook lie has reportedly received online.

“You could say it’s astronomical. It is,” Mattei said. “That’s exactly what Alex Jones set out to do. That’s what he built. He built a lying machine that could push this stuff out. You reap what you sow.”

Mattei praised the jurors after the verdict.

“The jury’s verdict is a testament to that courage, in a resounding affirmation that men of good will, dedicated to the truth, mindful of their responsibility to their fellow citizens, can join together to protect the innocent, to expose lies that is masquerading as truth, and to right a historical wrong,” Mattei told reporters outside the courthouse.

The decision in Connecticut comes two months after a separate jury in Texas decided Jones and his company should award two Sandy Hook parents who sued in that state nearly $50 million. Later this month, the judge in that case will consider whether to reduce the punitive damages awarded under Texas law.

While Jones initially lied about the 2012 shooting, he later admitted the massacre had taken place when he faced multiple lawsuits. But he failed to comply with court orders during the discovery process of lawsuits in Connecticut and Texas, leading the families in each state to win default judgments against him.

During the latest trial, families of Sandy Hook victims offered emotional testimony, telling the jury in chilling terms how Jones’ lies about the shooting had permanently changed their lives and exacerbated the pain of losing loved ones.

Jones, who was cross-examined by the plaintiffs’ lawyers but chose not to testify in his own defense as originally planned, tried to portray himself as the victim of a vast “deep state” conspiracy against him.

In a particularly explosive moment in the trial, Jones tangled with a lawyer for the plaintiffs, accusing him of “ambulance chasing” before descending into an unbridled rant in court about “liberals”.

The judge overseeing the case admonished Jones several times during his testimony, even warning him at one point that he could be held in contempt of court if he violated her rules in the future.

Jones has attacked the legal process, even admitting in court that he had referred to the case as a “kangaroo court” and called the judge a “tyrant”. He has already indicated that he plans to appeal.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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