Alex Jones ordered to pay $965m damages to Sandy Hook victims’ families, shamelessly broadcasts himself reacting to the verdict

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Alex Jones Trial
Alex Jones trial (REUTERS)

Alex Jones told to pay $965m damages to Sandy Hook victims’ families

 

The families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, and an FBI agent who responded to the attack, had sought at least $550m in the defamation trial in Connecticut.

They said the right-wing radio host’s misinformation led to a decade of harassment and death threats.

 

Jones, who owns far-right conspiracy theory site Infowars, shamelessly broadcast and spread misinformation about the Sandy Hook shooting.

 

He claimed the devastating school massacre was staged by the government as a ploy to call for tighter gun restrictions in the US and strip American’s of their arms, further then accusing those involved, including dead children and grieving parents, of being “crisis actors”.

 

Twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook in 2012 in what remains the deadliest school shooting in US history. After the school rampage, gunman Adam Lanza then turned his weapon and killed himself.

 

As the verdict was read out on Wednesday (October 12) in Waterbury, Connecticut – around 20 miles (32 km) from where the shooting took place – the families were visibly emotional with some in tears.

The three-week trial was marked by emotional testimonies from parents.

 

 

Parents went into heartbreaking detail about receiving a barrage of online hate, others said they had to move homes repeatedly for their own safety.

One father, Mark Barden, recounted hearing that people were desecrating his son Daniel’s grave by “urinating on it and threatening to dig it up”.

The daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was among the victims, testified that people had sent rape threats to her house.

 

Jurors heard evidence that Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, made millions of dollars selling nutritional supplements, survival gear and other products from the Infowars catalogue.

 

In closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Chris Mattei said: “When every single one of these families were drowning in grief, Alex Jones put his foot right on top of them.”

 

The jury ordered Jones to pay $965m (£870m) in damages. Some of the victims hugged after the verdict was delivered.

 

 

Sickeningly, Jones broadcast himself watching Wednesday’s verdict, seemingly ridiculing proceedings as they unfolded. 

He also appealed to his followers to make urgent donations, saying the funds would not go towards his legal costs.

“The money does not go to these people,” he said. “It goes to fight this fraud and it goes to stabilise the company.”

 

Throughout the trial, Jones criticized proceedings as a “show trial” run by a “tyrant” judge, called it a “kangaroo court” and argued he was not to blame for the actions of his followers.

 

“I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” he said in dramatic testimony late last month, acknowledging that the shooting did take place.

But he railed against “liberal” critics during the trial and refused to apologise to the families.

20 children and six adults were killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012

 

In a similar case in August, a separate jury found that Jones and his company must pay $49.3m (£44.5m) to Sandy Hook parents. That case was held in Austin, Texas, where Infowars is based.

 

It is unclear how much Jones can afford to pay. During the trial in August, he said he could not afford a judgment that exceeded $2m (£1.8m).

 

Jones now faces a third trial, back in Texas, in 2023.