Alex Jones: Jury rules conspiracy theorist should pay Sandy Hook families nearly $1 billion in damages for lying about school massacre

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Far-right talk show host Alex Jones should pay eight families of Sandy Hook Elementary school victims and a first responder $965 million in damages, a Connecticut jury ruled Wednesday, capping a harrowing week-long trial that inflicted the damage displayed severe harm by the conspiracy theorist’s lies.

With its punitive price, the decision could shrink or even ruin Jones’ Infowars media empire, which has been at the center of major conspiracy theories since the inception of President George W. Bush’s administration and backed by President Donald Trump.

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

Jones basically kept saying 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 poignantly described how the lies had led to relentless harassment of them and increased the emotional anguish of the loss of their loved ones.

Complaints at the trial included family members of eight students and employees, and an FBI agent who responded at the scene. The three cases were all combined into a single trial.

Jones was not in the courtroom for the verdict. He streamed live as the jury’s decision was read in court, poked fun at the decision on his Infowars show and used it to raise funds.

It’s unclear when and how much of the money the plaintiffs will ultimately see. Jones has announced he will appeal the decision and during his broadcast on Wednesday said there was “no money” to pay the massive sum the jury awarded the plaintiffs.

Christopher Mattei, attorney for the plaintiffs, had ordered the jury to pay at least half a billion dollars for permanently mutilating the lives of his clients. The number, he said, would represent the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook Lies allegedly received online.

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

Mattei praised the jury after the verdict.

“The jury’s verdict is a testament to that courage, in an overwhelming affirmation that people of good will, committed to the truth and aware of their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, can come together to protect the innocent, expose lies, masquerading as truth and righting a historical wrong,” Mattei told reporters outside the courthouse.

The Connecticut decision comes two months after a separate jury in Texas ruled that Jones and company should award two Sandy Hook parents who are suing in that state for 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 as he faced multiple court cases. But he failed to comply with court orders during the discovery process of the Connecticut and Texas lawsuits, leading to families in each state seeking default judgments against him.

During the recent trial, the families of the Sandy Hook victims gave emotional testimonies and told the jury powerfully how Jones’ lies about the shooting had changed their lives forever and increased the pain of losing loved ones.

Jones, who was cross-examined by plaintiffs’ attorneys but decided not to testify in his own defense as originally planned, attempted to portray himself as the victim of an elaborate “deep state” conspiracy against him.

At a particularly explosive moment in the trial, Jones took on a plaintiffs’ attorney and accused him of “ambulance hunting” before launching into a riot in court about “liberals.”

The judge overseeing the case admonished Jones several times during his testimony, even warning him once that he could be disregarded by the court if he broke his rules in the future.

Jones has attacked the trial, even admitting in court that he described the trial as that of a “kangaroo court” and called the judge a “tyrant.” He has already indicated that he intends to appeal.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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