Image source: ABC News
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones found himself in trouble when he called the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting a hoax, leading to a lawsuit from the victims’ families.
As a result, on Wednesday, a Connecticut jury ruled that Jones must pay $965 million in damages.
The decision concludes a weeks-long lawsuit that exposed the damage caused by Jones’s lies.
Punishment could destroy Alex Jones’s Infowars empire, which was at the heart of significant conspiracy theories during former President George W. Bush’s administration.
Upon reading the jury’s decisions, the plaintiffs and their attorneys were visibly moved as it marked a pivotal moment in a years-long trial.
The lawsuit began in 2018 when the families filed lawsuits against Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of the fringe media organization Infowars.
Alex Jones has insisted for years that the 2012 mass shooting that killed 26 people was staged, accusing families and first responders of being “actors of the crisis.”
During the trials, prosecutors described how the lies caused people to harass them and increased the emotional anguish of losing loved ones.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included relatives of eight students and employees and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting.
The three cases were merged into a single trial.
When the verdict came, Alex Jones was not in court.
Instead, he went live and mocked the decision of his Infowars program, which he used to raise money.
It is unclear how much money the plaintiffs will see and when they will get it.
According to Jones, he would appeal the decision and, on his show, he said there was no money to pay the enormous sum the jury had awarded to the plaintiffs.
Attorney Christopher Mattei, representing the plaintiffs, urged the jury to award at least half a billion dollars for permanently harming the lives of his clients.
He said the figure would represent the more than 550 million online impressions that Jones’s Sandy Hook lie would receive online.
“You may say that is astronomical. It is,” said Mattei. “It’s exactly what Alex Jones set himself up to do.”
“That’s what he built. He built a lie machine that could push this stuff out. You reap what you sow.”
When the jury announced their verdict, Mattei applauded them. He then turned to reporters outside the courthouse and said:
“The jury’s verdict is a testament to that courage, in a resounding affirmation that people of goodwill, dedicated to the truth, mindful of their responsibilities to their fellow citizens can come together to protect the innocent, to reveal lies masquerading as truth, and to set right a historic wrong.”
Two months later, a separate jury in Texas ruled that Jones and the company should award two of Sandy Hook’s parents, who are suing the state for nearly $50 million.
At the end of this month, the judge in the Texas case will consider whether damages granted under Texas law should be reduced.
The effects of Alex Jones’ conspiracies
Although Alex Jones insisted the 2012 shooting was a hoax, he later admitted the massacre was real as multiple lawsuits loomed over his head.
He disobeyed court orders in the Connecticut and Texas Discovery Trials.
Failure to comply has led families in both states to obtain default judgments against him.
During the last trial, the families of the victims made a moving statement.
They told the jury how the far-fetched conspiracies surrounding the shooting had changed their lives forever.
Jones was cross-examined by plaintiffs’ attorneys but elected not to testify for his defense as planned initially.
Instead, he tried to play the part of the victim of an elaborate “Deep State” plot against him.
Jones caused explosive moments during the trial when he mangled the prosecutor’s attorney.
He accused the lawyer of “driving out ambulances” and ranted against the “liberals.”
The judge reprimanded Jones multiple times during his testimony and, at one point, warned him that he could be held in contempt if he continued to break their rules.
Alex Jones attacked the trial, likening it to a “kangaroo court” and calling the judge a tyrant.
He announced that he would appeal.
Jury decides conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay nearly $1 billion in damages to Sandy Hook families for his lies about the school massacre