Austin, Texas – Texas Jury on Thursday awarded parents of child killed in mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 more more than 4 million dollars in damages from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, first held him for a while financially responsible for defamation of the victims parents spreading lies that they were complicit in a government conspiracy to stage a shooting as an excuse for gun control.
decision was first in a series of potential rewards against Mr Jones. Jury will consider evidence on Friday of Mr Jones net worth define how a lot, anyway award the parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, in penalties.
Two other Sandy Hook trials parents recovery of damages from Mr. Jones was scheduled for next month, although they may be delayed because his company filed for bankruptcy last a week.
Mr Jones is becoming more symbolic of how disinformation and false the stories took off in American society. He played role in dissemination of some of the recent history of the most pernicious conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate” is in Infowars video helped inspire action movie attack pizzeria in Washington, D.C., as well as coronavirus myths and “Stop theft” lies about electoral fraud before the Capitol was stormed. on January 6, 2021
The verdict came in a few days of emotional readings, including 90 minutes on On Tuesday, when Ms. Lewis personally approached Mr. Jones, asking him why he was knowingly spreading lies about death of her child, Jessie, aged 6, who died together with 19 others first class students and six Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Jesse was real boy. And I real mother,” said Miss Lewis to Mr. Jones. Later she admonished him: “Alexey, I want you hear it. Were more polarized as never before, as a country. A little of this is because of you.”
But the most explosive discovery came on Wednesday, when family lawyer Mark Bankston said the legal team mistakenly sent him all the content of Mr. Jones’ mobile phone, including at least two years worth of compromising text messages now of interest in a House committee investigating attack on Capitol. The Committee is closely studying the case of Mr. Jones. role in planning events around the uprising and Mr Bankston is now seeking the approval of a judge to deliver the text notes to prosecutors and committee on 6 January.
Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin requested $150 million. in damages, and Mr Bankston said he was optimistic about the jury’s opinion. award on Friday. “You can probably imagine that if the jury reaches a verdict in excess of $4 million, for these plaintiffs in damages, I think the punishment is likely to be in what range or higherMr Bankston said. “I think it is quite expected that we will see over nine figure sentence against Mr Jones.”
He added: “It’s been a long journey and it’s very, very nice to be able to turn around and look at your customers and say, ‘He can’t get off unpunished for this is. He can not. you had a defendant who walked into that courtroom and said, “I think I should have to pay them dollar.’ And the jury said no.
Mr Jones said in his bankruptcy filing that he had already paid $15 million in legal expenses for the Sandy Hook trial. Referring to the damages requested by Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin, Mr. Jones called award “big win” in video posted on Information wars on Thursday night, even as he called on the audience buy products from it website prick off what he portrayed financial devastation.
“I admitted that I was wrong,” he said. “I admitted that it mistake. I admitted that I followed the disinformation, but I didn’t on goal. I apologized to the families. And the jury knew it.”
Mr Jones lost series of Slander on Sandy Hook suits default last year after repeated failure to provide court-ordered documents and testimony. These rulings set scene for court this summer.
More important than money, as the Sandy Hook families said, this is the verdict of society on culture in what viral misinformation damages lives and destroys reputation.
“The word is free, but you have to pay for lies for” Mr Bankston told jurors. last a week. “It’s a matter of creating change.”
In the heart of the trial was an episode in June 2017. of “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” on NBC, featuring Mr. Jones. in a broadcast, Mr Heslin protested Mr Jones’s denial of shooting. He remembered his last moments with Jessie, saying “I kept my son with bullet hole through it head”.
After that, Mr. Jones and Owen Schroyer, host of Infowars, relayed shows implying that Mr. Heslin lied.
“Are there any clarifications from Heslin or Megyn Kelly?” Mr Schroyer said on Infowars. “I wouldn’t hold your breath.
During the trial, Mr. Jones’ lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, said that Mr. Jones was essentially running his own defense. After much uncertainty as to whether the leader of the conspiracy would testify, he was adamant that he would act as the only witness. in his defense.
Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis used various of experts. Court opened with Testimony of Dan Jewiss, retired Connecticut State Police Investigator who handled the Sandy Hook case; forensic psychiatrist and psychologist who treated Mr. Heslin and Mrs. Lewis; and several Infowars employees whose questionable statements allowed a family of lawyers to present evidence damaging to Mr. Jones, including televised version of in full interview with Miss Kelly in which Mr. Jones put forward as an incendiary false claims.
Mr. Jones’ audience and related earnings have skyrocketed, to more more than 50 million dollars a year, in decade after Sandy Hook.
His defense of Second Amendment After Mass Shooting Grabs Mainstream Attention news organizations. But it was the union of Mr. Jones with former President Donald J. Trump, who appeared on Information wars in December 2015, which moved him from the far right to the center. of Populism of the Republican Party.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Trump often repeated the same inflammatory remarks. false claims, including the racist birth lie, that President Barack Obama was not born in United States; that Muslims in New York area “celebrated” the September 11, 2001 attacks; and the rigged 2020 election that led to violence in the Capitol last year.