A jury decided Wednesday afternoon that Infowars founder Alex Jones must pay $965 million for spewing lies that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax and that the grieving parents involved were paid actors.
The money will go straight to the pockets of family members who lost children in the massacre, and to an FBI agent who was harassed by Jones’ listeners. There were 15 complaints in total.
But in a livestream that aired as the jury’s verdict was read out, Jones showed no remorse, instead mocking jurors and the Sandy Hook parents who wept as the damages were read out.
“Fifty-seven million, $20 million, $50 million, $80 million, $100 million, blah, blah,” Jones said, according to NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny. “You get a million, you get $100 million, you get a $50 million… Do these people actually think they’re getting any of this money?”
Jones refused to hand over financial data from his businesses before or during the trial, and simultaneously filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors earlier this year for Infowars and its parent company, Free Speech Systems. Around the same time, he reportedly transferred some property ownership to his wife. In his Texas trial, he said any damages above $2 million would tank InfoWars—but a forensic economist put his company’s worth at between $135 and $270 million.
Despite appearing to be on the brink of bankruptcy, Jones indicated Wednesday that he doesn’t plan to stop spreading insane conspiracies about mass shootings.
“They want to scare us away from questioning Uvalde or Parkland,” he said. “We’re not going away. We’re not going to stop.”
Jones’ chaotic trial played out in Waterbury, Connecticut, 20 miles southwest of where 26 people were killed just over a decade ago. Jury deliberations began on Oct. 6. Only compensatory damages owed by Jones were determined on Wednesday, and jurors will decide at a later date whether Jones must also pay punitive damages.
Of the 15 plaintiffs, Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter was killed at Sandy Hook, received the highest individual payout on Wednesday of $120 million. FBI agent William Aldenberg received the second-highest payout at $90 million.
Nicole and Ian Hockley, who received $73.6 million and $81.6 million respectively, were awarded the highest combined payout stemming from a single victim. Their 6-year-old son, Dylan, was shot to death in the arms of Anne Marie Murphy, an aide at his school who assisted his special needs. Murphy was also killed.
During the trial, Jones struggled to keep his cool while on the witness stand, even blurting out at one point that he was done saying sorry.
“Is this a struggle session? Are we in China?” Jones fumed to Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, during questioning. “I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”
Jurors weren’t tasked with determining a judgment in the defamation case, as Judge Barbara Bellis already ruled against the conspiracy theorist when he refused to produce crucial evidence, but were tasked with determining just how much Jones will owe his victims in damages. Jones is now on the hook for a combined amount of just over $1 billion after a separate jury in Texas decided in August that he must pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the children killed in the shooting.
Alex Jones Halts Testimony to Cool Off After Disastrous Court Day
The family members who sued Jones in Connecticut said they were tormented by strangers who were inspired by his Infowars webcasts. They argued their harassers were convinced—solely by Jones—that one of the deadliest school shootings in US history was a massive con ordered by Democrats to build support for gun restrictions.
This harassment added insult to injury for grieving families, they argued, many of whom had just lost their child to senseless gunfire as they sat in their first-grade classroom.
Among those who tested against Jones was Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was murdered in the shooting. He said that wackos began flooding his personal website with hateful comments after Jones called the shooting a hoax, calling him a “liar and a fraud,” the washington post reported.
Harassers soon turned up their hate to another level, Barden said, threatening to dig up his son’s grave, which the harassers also claimed to have defiled.
“To hear that people were desecrating it and urinating on it and threatening to dig it up,” Barden said of his son’s grave. “I don’t know how to articulate to you what that feels like. But that’s where we are.”
Barden was awarded $57.6 million by the jury on Wednesday.
Other plaintiffs said they were forced to move multiple times to escape the hate set off by Jones’ lies, which he regularly repeated on his daily shows.
Mattei said Jones created a “lie machine” for profit at the expense of grieving parents.
“He knew his army was coming after them,” he said Thursday. “Every single one of these families was drowning in grievance and Alex Jones put his foot right on top of them.”
Under Connecticut law, jurors in a damages trial are tasked to hear evidence about the scale of harm—in this case, the “pain and suffering” inflicted by Jones—and reach a consensus on what fair compensation would be for the victims.
Mattei, in his closing arguments Thursday, focused on the profits Jones’ raked in while spreading lies. As his viewership spiked, so did his sale of products like nutritional supplements and survivalist gear, Mattei said.
Jones and his lawyers countered that he shouldn’t be held responsible for what his supporters do, and have since vowed to keep fighting against ever paying the plaintiffs.
Mattei said Wednesday he anticipated this, and that he plans to pursue full payouts for each victim, no matter how long it takes.
“We are going to enforce this verdict as long as it takes because that is what justice requires,” he said, according to The New York Times.
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