Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was sentenced to pay $ 4.11 million (£ 3.38 million) in damages to the family of a Sandy Hook victim.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was among 20 students and six adults killed in the mass shooting, sued Jones and his media company for claiming the massacre was a “bogus operation.” flag”. and that the victims did not really exist.
They had claimed $ 150 million in damages and another trial to determine punitive damages is expected to take place on Friday.
At the heart of Alex Jones’s libel case is a decade-long tragedy for families who lost young children and loved ones in one of the worst school massacres in U.S. history.
What happened to Sandy Hook and how did Alex Jones get involved?
Adam Lanza, 20, heavily armed, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 after shooting his mother to death and unleashing an unimaginable carnage, which saw 20 children and six adults killed.
Despite the human cost that haunted the city of Newtown, Connecticut, within hours of the bloodshed, Alex Jones began falsely claiming that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, a massacre that stunned the world of observers was not real. .
As families were left to bury their young children in tiny coffins, Jones said the mass shooting and murder of 20 children never happened.
And he also claimed that the grieving six- and seven-year-olds never existed.
The Infowars host told his audience that the violence was in fact a “false flag” operation designed by the government to introduce stricter gun control laws and take away Second Amendment rights.
He claimed the event was “staged” and “completely fake”, made by “actors” like a “giant hoax”. His conspiracy theories began less than two hours after the mass shooting on December 14, 2012.
“There was a school shooting in Connecticut, one of the states that has draconian restrictions on gun possession … The media will advertise the light of day,” he told his listeners.
“Why do governments stage these things? To get our guns! “
And so it continued for the next decade, continually claiming that the shooting was “staged” and “completely false”, performed by “actors” like a “giant hoax”.
What happened after Alex Jones called Sandy Hook a “hoax”?
Families who had their world destroyed by Adam Lanza have finally had enough.
In 2018, a total of 10 families of victims filed four defamation lawsuits in Texas – where Infowars is based – and in Connecticut against Jones and Infowars for his false claims.
And in 2021, judges in all defamation cases ruled that Jones was guilty by default as he did not provide the required evidence.
Jones was supposed to testify under oath in March as part of an effort to solve the case, but his layers tried to delay him, claiming he was too “sick” to participate.
Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis denied her requests for postponement, saying he looked good enough to film her Infowars show and defied court orders to show up.
The circus then moved to Austin, Texas, where a Travis County jury was asked to decide how much Jones will pay Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis.
Their six-year-old son, Jesse, was among 20 children and six adults massacred by the gunman.
What happened during the libel trial?
Jones avoided Mr. Heslin’s testimony, but was confronted directly in court by Mrs. Lewis, who told the court that her son had rescued nine children before being shot in the head.
“Jesse was real,” Ms. Lewis told Jones as she sat in the courtroom in Travis County, Texas, as she testified Tuesday. “I’m a real mom”.
She added: “I wanted to tell you, to your face, because I wanted you to know that I’m a mother first and foremost. I know you are a father, ”Lewis told Jones.
“And my son existed. You’re still on your show today, trying to say that I’m – implying – that I’m an actress. That I have “been deep”. You have. This week. And I don’t understand.
He went on to tell Jones that he didn’t believe his own outrageous claims about the shooting either.
“I’m not in the deep state … I know you know … I know you believe me, yet you’ll leave this room and say it again on your show,” she said. “Do you have the ability to put yourself in my shoes? Do you have empathy? “
At one point, Ms. Lewis asked Jones if she really thought she was an actress.
“Having a six-year-old son shot in the forehead in class is unbearable. And then having someone more perpetuating a lie that he was a hoax, that it didn’t happen, that it was a false flag, that I was an actress – Do you think she’s an actress?
“No, I don’t think you’re an actor,” he replied before the judge warned him and told him to shut up.
What did Alex Jones say in his testimony?
During his own testimony, Jones promoted his supplement business while at the booth and bragged about the quality of the product he sold on Infowars.
He also told the jury that his company had made $ 165 million from the supplements on the site.
Early in his testimony, Jones apologized to his parents. “I never intentionally tried to hurt you, I never even said your name until we came to court,” he said.
He was later reprimanded by the judge in the case for telling the jury that he complied with the collection of preliminary evidence even though he did not and that he failed, which has not yet been decided.
“This is not your show,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Jones. “Your beliefs don’t make something true. You are under oath.
And during his testimony, he finally admitted that the massacre was “100 percent real”.
“Especially since I met the parents. It’s 100% real, “Jones said.
On the last day of the testimony, the family’s attorney surprisingly informed Jones that his own attorney had accidentally sent them two years of his text messages.
Jones claimed during the discovery that he could not find any Sandy Hook-related text messages on his phone, but denied lying under oath.