A Connecticut jury has reached a decision on how much far-right talk show host Alex Jones should pay eight families of Sandy Hook Elementary school victims and a first responder to cap a week-long trial that has exposed the public’s seriousness has been harmed by the lies of the conspiracy theorist.
The decision marks the culmination of a 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 repeatedly unsubstantiated 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.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit included family members of eight students and employees, as well as an FBI agent who was at the scene. The three cases were all combined into a single trial.
Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the jury to award at least half a billion dollars for the permanent mutilation of his clients’ lives. The number, he said, would represent the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook lie 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 sow.”
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 their 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 breaks and is updated.