Alex Jones forced to pay $965 million to Sandy Hook families in second defamation ruling
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Infowars host Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $965,000,000 (£869.3m) after losing his second defamation trial against the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook shootings.
The verdict came at Waterbury, Connecticut state court today (12 October), not far from where a gunman killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
Jones claimed for years that the massacre was a false flag event, staged by government actors as part of a plot to seize Americans' guns, and consequently the families of those killed in the attack have been harassed by people for nearly a decade.
Today a jury voted to fine Jones, making him pay the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims for his comments about the massacre. Each plaintiff received millions of dollars, with one family member receiving more than $80 million (£72m).
In August, another jury found that Jones and his company must pay $49.3 million (£44.4m) to Sandy Hook parents in a similar case in Austin, Texas, where the headquarters of Jones' Infowars website is located.
During closing arguments made in court last week, lawyers representing the families of the Sandy Hook victims said Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems LLC, cashed in for years on lies about the shooting, which boosted traffic to his Infowars website and made him millions.
Meanwhile, the victims' families suffered a decade-long campaign of harassment and death threats by Jones’ followers, plaintiffs' attorney Chris Mattei told jurors.
“Every single one of these families (was) drowning in grief, and Alex Jones put his foot right on top of them,” Mattei said.
The trial was marked by weeks of anguished testimony from the families, who filled the gallery each day and took turns recounting how Jones’ lies about Sandy Hook compounded their grief.
An FBI agent who responded to the shooting was also a plaintiff in the case.
During the lengthy court proceedings Jones begrudgingly admitted his accusations had been false, and briefly threw the trial into chaos as he railed against his 'liberal' critics and refused to apologise to the families.
Meanwhile, the jury heard evidence and testimony that Jones and his company had made millions of dollars from selling nutritional supplements, survival gear and other items.
A company representative testified they had made at least $100 million in the past decade – a figure that informed the jury's final decision.
A third trial in Texas involving the parents of another child slain at Sandy Hook is set to begin near the end of the year, with Jones expected to pay further damages pending a verdict.