Alex Jones trial stay updates: Jury awards Sandy Hook dad and mom $4.1 million

Texas Jury 2012 In the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the parents of a child were awarded more than $4 million in damages from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for defaming them by spreading lies that they were complicit in the government’s plan to carry out the shooting as a pretext for gun control.

A jury deliberated for less than a day Thursday before deciding on damages brought by Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin for Jesse Lewis, 6, who died in the mass shooting that killed 20 first-graders. and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

To closing word On Wednesday, Jones’ lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, said the Infowars broadcaster and his company were willing to pay one dollar for each of the eight defamation claims.

In many ways, Mr. Jones symbolized how misinformation and false narratives have gained traction in society over the past decade. He has played a role in spreading some of the most damaging and dangerous conspiracy theories in recent history, e.g. Pizzagate — in which an Infowars video helped inspire a gunman to attack a pizzeria in Washington — the coronavirus myths and Stop the Steal lies about election fraud before the 2021 Capitol attack. January 6

The trial will now enter a second phase in which the jury will consider evidence of Mr. Jones’ net worth to determine how much, if any, punitive damages should be awarded to Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis.

They had demanded 150 million damages for years of torture and threats after Mr. Jones lied about them on Infowars, his Austin-based website and show. This is the first of three attempts which asks jurors to decide how much Mr. Jones must pay the relatives of 10 Sandy Hook victims for lying that they were involved in a so-called false flag operation orchestrated by the government.

Mr. Jones lost a series of Sandy Hook libel suits by default, after repeatedly failing to submit court-ordered documents and testimony last year. Those rulings helped set up lawsuits this summer that will award families monetary damages for their victories.

Sandy Hook families said more important than money is the public’s decision on a a culture where viral misinformation is life-threatening and destroys reputation.

“Speech is free, but there is a price for lying,” Mark Bankston, a lawyer for Ms Lewis and Mr Heslin, told the jury last week. “This is a case about creating change.”

The essence of the trial was in 2017. in June An episode of NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly. profiled by Mr. Jones. On the broadcast, Mr. Heslin protested Mr. Jones’ denial of the shooting. He recalled his final moments with Jesse saying, “I was holding my son with a bullet through his head.”

Later, Mr. Jones and Infowars host Owen Shroyer aired shows suggesting Mr. Heslin was lying.

“Will Heslin or Megyn Kelly Explain?” Mr. Shroyer told Infowars. “I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

During the trial, Mr. Reynal said Mr. Jones was essentially defending himself. After a long period of uncertainty as to whether the conspiracy broadcaster would testify, he was convinced that he would be the only witness for his defense.

Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis deployed various experts. The trial began with testimony from Dan Jewiss, a retired Connecticut State Police investigator who led the Sandy Hook investigation; the forensic psychiatrist and psychologist who treated Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis; and numerous Infowars employees whose questionable statements allowed the family’s lawyers to introduce evidence damaging to Mr. Jones, including a televised broadcast of the entire interview with Ms. Kelly, in which Mr. Jones made a series of false accusations. .

Mr. Jones’ audience and corresponding revenue skyrocketed to more than 50 million. USD per year since Sandy Hook.

After the mass shooting, his defense of the Second Amendment drew attention from major news organizations. But it was Mr. Jones’ alliance with former President Donald J. Trump, which appeared on Infowars in December 2015, that moved him from the fringes of the far right to the center of populism in the Republican Party.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Trump have frequently repeated the same inflammatory false claims, including the racist “birther” lie that President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, that Muslims in New York “celebrated” 9/11. 2001, terrorist attacks and 2020 the election lie that brought violence to the Capitol last year.

Mr Jones is under scrutiny for his role in planning the events leading up to the attack on the Capitol, and evidence in the current proceedings could be valuable to a House committee investigating on January 6, lawyers for the families say.

Mr. Bankston revealed in court Wednesday that he had text messages from Mr. Jones’ cellphone that show he withheld key evidence in defamation lawsuits filed by families over lies he spread about the 2012 school shooting. The messages were apparently mistakenly sent to the families’ lawyers by Mr Jones’ legal team and appear to cover a period when he was actively seeking to have the election annulled.

Mr Bankston said in court on Thursday that a House committee had requested two years of messages from Mr Jones’ phone and that he intended to comply unless told not to.

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