Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in Sandy Hook defamation case

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A jury in Connecticut on Wednesday ordered Infowars founder Alex Jones to pay $965 million in damages to the families of eight Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims and to an FBI agent for falsely claiming that the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown was staged.

The six-member panel took three days to return its unanimous verdict at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, which is about 20 miles from the school.

Compensatory damages for defamation/slander and emotional distress (past and future) per plaintiff:

• Robbie Parker, father of 6-year-old Emilie Parker: $120 million
• David Wheeler, father of 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler: $55 million
• Francine Wheeler, mother of Benjamin Wheeler: $54 million
• Jacqueline Barden, mother of 7-year-old Daniel Barden: $28.8 million
• Mark Barden, father of Daniel Barden : $57.6 million
• Nicole Hockley, mother of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley: $73.6 million
• Ian Hockley, father of Dylan Hockley: $81.6 million
• Jennifer Hensel, mother of 6-year-old Avielle Richman: $52 million
• Donna Soto, mother of 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto: $48 million
• Carlee Soto-Parisi, sister of Victoria Soto: $66 million
• Carlos Soto, father of Victoria Soto: $56.6 million
• Jillian Soto, sister of Victoria Soto: $68.8 million
• William Aldenberg, FBI agent and first responder at Sandy Hook: $90 million
• Erica Lafferty, daughter of 47-year-old Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung: $76 million
• William Sherlach, husband of 56-year-old school psychologist Mary Sherlach: $36 million

Attorneys fees for the plaintiffs will be awarded at a later date.

Alex Jones appears on the witness stand while testifying at his defamation trial at Connecticut Superior Court
Alex Jones appears on the witness stand while testifying at his defamation trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Sept. 22. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media/Pool via Reuters)

Jones, who testified in person at the trial late last month, was not present in court Thursday. He was hosting his Infowars show live as the verdict was being read.

“Ain’t gonna be happening, ain’t no money,” Jones said. “I killed the kids, folks, that’s what they think.”

He also vowed to appeal, while asking asking viewers for donations.

“Now remember, I’m in bankruptcy,” Jones added. “The money you donate does not go to these people. It goes to fight this fraud.”

Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in August, and Jones has claimed he cannot afford any judgment over $2 million. But an economist who testified at an earlier trial in estimated Jones and his company are worth as much as $270 million.

Alex Jones
Jones speaks to the media after appearing at his Sandy Hook defamation trial. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The monthlong trial featured often emotional and tearful testimony from victims’ relatives who said they have been tormented and threatened by people who believed the lies spread by Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, which operates the Infowars website.

Mark and Jackie Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed at Sandy Hook, testified that people had urinated on their son’s grave and threatened to dig it up to prove he was still alive.

Robbie Parker, whose 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was killed at the school, testified about the repeated harassment he received after Infowars showed a video of him smiling just before a news conference the day after the shooting — proof, Jones claimed, that Parker and others were “crisis actors.”

“It would come in these waves,” Parker said of the harassment. “It was almost like I knew when Alex Jones said something, because we would get a huge wave of stuff.”

Jones appeared on the witness stand just once when he was called to testify by the plaintiffs’ attorneys. In his testimony, Jones said he was “done saying I’m sorry” for his role in spreading lies about the massacre.

He declined to present a defense, and his lawyers rested without putting on evidence or witnesses.

Alex Jones
Jones on the witness stand. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media/Pool via Reuters)

Outside of the courthouse, however, Jones called the legal proceedings a “show trial” and “kangaroo court” aimed at putting him out of business.

Jones lost four defamation lawsuits filed by Sandy Hook families late last year. The trial in Connecticut was the second of three trials for juries to decide on how much money Jones must pay in damages.

The latest verdict comes two months after a jury in Austin, Texas — where Infowars is based — ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in punitive and compensatory damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, was one of 20 children killed in the attack. Six educators were also slain.

In that trial, Jones sought to portray himself as a victim who had been “typecast” for claiming the shooting was staged — and said that he now believes the massacre actually happened.

“It’s 100% real,” Jones said on the witness stand.

Later in his testimony, however, Jones added a baseless caveat to his concession.

“I think Sandy Hook happened. I think it was a terrible event,” he said, adding: “I think it was a cover-up. The FBI knew it was going to happen.”

A third such trial, also in Texas, is expected to begin later this year.