A jury in Connecticut has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $950 million to the families of eight victims who were killed during the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
For years, Jones had claimed that the shooting was staged and that the families were crisis actors in an effort by the government to confiscate Americans’ guns. The latest verdict is the second against Jones, following a ruling from a separate jury in Texas ordered Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages, an amount that may soon be reduced due to state laws capping the amount of damages.
The Connecticut trial lasted three weeks and included testimony from the parents of victims and school employees, along with an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, CNN reported. The case itself is a consolidation of three other cases, brought about by various families and the FBI agent.
Since the shooting, Jones had repeatedly claimed the incident was a hoax, which families of the victims said throughout the trial led to harassment against them and continued anguish after losing their children. In 2018, the families began taking action against Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Jones’ conspiracy theorist organization Infowars.
Prosecutors asked the jury to award $550 million based on the number of impressions Jones’ false claims received online.
“You may say that is astronomical. It is,” Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs said while addressing the jurors. “It’s exactly what Alex Jones set himself up to do. That’s what he built. He built a lie machine that could push this stuff out. You reap what you sow.”
When Jones began facing lawsuits for his false claims, he acknowledged that the shooting did occur, but, as CNN reported, he didn’t comply with court orders during the discovery process of the lawsuits brought against him in Texas or Connecticut, which led to the families winning default judgments against him.
In August, Jones was ordered to pay Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse, who was killed in the mass shooting along with 19 other children and six educators, The Daily Wire previously reported.
Jones still faces another lawsuit in Texas.