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Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to Sandy Hook families in Connecticut trial

Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1B in damages
Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to Sandy Hook families 03:22

Alex Jones was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in a defamation case for promoting the lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax. The Connecticut jury found Jones liable for $965 million, with amounts reaching as high as $120 million for a single person.

Jones and his company were found liable for damages last year. The six-person jury was tasked with determining how much the Infowars show host should pay to 15 plaintiffs — including the families and an FBI agent — for calling the 2012 massacre a hoax.

The jury was instructed to arrive at two compensatory damages amounts per plaintiff: one sum for defamation damages and another for emotional distress damages. 

Some plaintiffs hugged in the courtroom after the verdict was read. Jones wasn't there, but live video from the court played on a split screen on his Infowars show.

"Hey, folks, don't go buying big homes," he said.

Alex Jones Speaks To The Media Outside The Sandy Hook Trial In Waterbury, Connecticut
Infowars founder Alex Jones speaks to the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during his trial on Sept. 21, 2022 in Waterbury, Connecticut.  Getty Images

Jones has bashed the trial as a "kangaroo court," described it as an affront to free speech rights, and called the judge a "tyrant." His lawyer told the jury that any damages awarded should be minimal.

It is unclear how much of the verdicts Jones can afford to pay. During a recent trial in Texas, he testified that he couldn't afford any judgment over $2 million. Jones' media company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in July. But an economist testified in the Texas proceeding that Jones and his company were worth as much as $270 million.

The trial featured tearful testimony from parents and siblings of the victims, who told about how they were threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the lies told on Jones' show.

Strangers showed up at their homes to record them. People hurled abusive comments on social media. Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, testified that people mailed rape threats to her house. Mark Barden told of how conspiracy theorists had urinated on the grave of his 7-year-old son, Daniel, and threatened to dig up the coffin.

After the verdict, several family members spoke at an emotional news conference.

"All I can really say is I'm proud that what we were able to accomplish is to simply tell the truth. And it shouldn't be this hard, and it shouldn't be this scary," said Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter Emilie was killed in the shooting. "Every day in that courtroom, we got up on the stand and we told the truth."

Sandy Hook families speak out after Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages 08:46

Jones also has been found liable by default in two similar lawsuits over the hoax lies in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where a jury in one of the trials ordered Jones in August to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the children killed. A third trial in Texas is expected to begin near the end of the year.

When Jones faced the Texas jury and testified under oath, he toned down his rhetoric. He said he realized the hoax lies were irresponsible and the school shooting was "100% real."

Twenty children and six adults died in the shooting on Dec. 14, 2012 at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The trial was held at a courthouse in Waterbury, about 20 miles away.

The lawsuit accused Jones and Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems, of using the mass killing to build his audience and make millions of dollars. Experts testified that Jones' audience swelled, as did his revenue from product sales, when he made Sandy Hook a topic on the show.

Court records submitted in the recent Texas case showed Jones made more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018 selling items like survivalist gear and dietary supplements on Infowars.

A lawyer for the families in the Connecticut case, Josh Koskoff, said that "if this verdict shuts down Alex Jones, good."

"He's been walking in the shadow of death to try to profit on the backs of people who have just been devastated," Koskoff said. "That is not a business model that should be sustainable in the United States."

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