Jones, Alex Sandy Hook Trial: Jury Rules Jones Owes 4.1M in Defamation; sentenced to pay

During his InfoWars programme, Alex Jones, the famed radio broadcaster and pusher of conspiracy theories, repeatedly claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 was fabricated. Defendants Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of a 6-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, are suing for 150 million in damages after Jones testified on their behalf in a defamation trial on Wednesday.

Jones was ordered to pay the parents at least 4.1 million by the jury on Thursday afternoon. Despite the fact that the jury’s finding, which was signed by 10 of the 12 jurors, is less than 3% of the amount sought by the parents, Jones may still be required to pay more. The jury will reconvene on Friday to decide whether Jones owes any of the 75 million in punitive damages sought by Heslin and Lewis’ counsel.

The trial in Texas, which started July 25, is one of three such trials against Jones over his allegations about the Newton, Connecticut, massacre. In each instance, Jones was found guilty of slander. The damages he’ll have to pay are now decided by the courts.

Lawyers for both the plaintiff and Jones’ defence team, as well as members of the jury, grilled Jones on Wednesday. Jones stated he understood it was foolish to assume the mass massacre was a hoax when asked by defence counsel Andino Renal. According to Jones, the story was “100% true.”

Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, presented a piece from Alex Jones’ InfoWars programme, which aired last week and made false assertions against Judge Maya Guerra Gamble. Also shown was a footage from InfoWars in which Jones labelled the jurors “very blue collar” and suggested they had no idea where they were.

Bankston then stated that the defence had mistakenly provided him Jones’ complete messaging history by mistake. In the face of this evidence, Jones’ sworn claim that he had no messages relating to Sandy Hook was proven false. On Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported that the Jan. 6 House select committee is planning to obtain the messages and emails.

After the plaintiff and the defence ran out of questions, the jurors put some down that the judge would read to Jones. One of the jurors questioned Jones about the amount of compensation she thought the parents deserved. Any sum beyond 2 million, he said, would “sink us.” Earlier during the plaintiff’s queries, Jones acknowledged that his programme had sometimes generated 800,000 per day in revenue.

After taking a short break, both parties presented their final statements late on Wednesday. The jury then proceeded to deliberate after the debate.

Judge Gamble rejected the defense’s demand for a mistrial as the jury debated on Thursday. Additionally, Bankston said that he would provide copies of Jones’ phone’s contents to the authorities at their request.

Heslin and Lewis sought 150 million in damages from the court not only for emotional harm brought on by the unfounded assertions that the massacre was a “false flag” attack intended to promote stricter gun control laws, but also for death threats made by those who subscribe to the debunked conspiracy theory advanced by Jones.

According to The Washington Post, Heslin stated in court on Tuesday, “I can’t even express the previous nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to experience because of the carelessness and incompetence of Alex Jones.”

The defamation trial centred on Heslin’s remarks from a 2017 televised interview with broadcaster Megyn Kelly and how InfoWars interpreted them to fit its own story. Heslin remembered Jesse Lewis, his 6-year-old son, being shot in the head during the Sandy Hook incident and stated, “I held my kid with a bullet hole in his skull.” The timing of events rendered it “not conceivable” for him to have cradled his infant, according to InfoWars host Owen Shroyer, shortly after the interview aired.

What is Sandy Hook and who is Jones?

A 48-year-old conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones is best known for his InfoWars radio and YouTube programme. He is known for spreading spurious ideas including Pizzagate, the belief that high-ranking Democrats patronised a DC restaurant that was engaged in child sex trafficking, and the recently disproven assertion that Trump won the 2020 election. On January 5 and 6, 2021, Jones was revealed to have funded pro-Trump demonstrations that sparked the assault on the US Capitol.

The idea of a “false flag” operation is a recurrent one in Jones’ statements, and he often refers to it. “To attempt to bring down Trump,” Jones said, without proof, that the Unite the Right demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Falsely, Jones claimed that white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally organiser Jason Kessler was an FBI agent. At least one person was murdered when a vehicle rammed into counter-protesters, including Heather Heyer, a local resident.

A 20-year-old gunman opened fire on a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, killing 27 people. First, Lanza murdered his mother in her bed before moving on to the school, where he slaughtered 20 students and six adults before taking his own life.

In the midst of the ridiculous theories Jones deals in, he has gained a significant and powerful following. In 2015, while he was running for president, Donald Trump came on his programme. Until 2018, InfoWars’ YouTube channel had more than 2 million followers. Despite the fact that InfoWars filed for bankruptcy in April, it may have been due to the present defamation litigation.)

An InfoWars producer testified in court on July 29 that the website produced more than 165 million in revenue throughout the course of a three-year period. Products offered on the internet, such as health supplements and outdoor gear, accounted for a significant portion of that revenue.

What did Jones have to say about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

The idea that Sandy Hook was a “hoax” is the most notorious of all the radical conspiracy theories advanced by Jones. At one point, Jones contended that the Obama administration had staged the tragedy as a pretext to enact stronger gun control regulations.

This seems manufactured,” Jones claimed the day of the shootings, given the time and circumstances. Adolf Hitler’s 1933 plan to take total power by destroying Germany’s parliament and imposing martial rule was likened to the shooting by the speaker. “When and why did Hitler detonate his bomb in the Reichstag? To regain mastery, “On the broadcast, he made the comment. “Who sets up these events, and why? To reclaim our weapons!”

After Sandy Hook, Jones started challenging the authenticity of the parents who lost their children. Robbie Parker was spotted carrying a folded piece of paper the day after his daughter’s death, and he was very distraught. It was Jones’ allegation, made without evidence, that the newspaper was proof of a media or government plan to smear him.

Before giving interviews to the media and breaking down in tears, Jones erroneously stated on InfoWars that some of the parents were laughing.

The claims Jones made on Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly in 2017 and on a later edition of InfoWars are critical to his defamation complaint.

After losing his kid in the shooting, “I buried my son; I hugged my son with a gunshot hole in his skull,” Heslin recalled. Owen Shroyer, the host of InfoWars, suggested that Heslin had made up part or all of the narrative.

While testifying in court on July 28 and 29, Shroyer stated that he had not thoroughly checked the documentation from which he drew his conclusions about Heslin prior to making his statements.

Why are the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims receiving death threats?

Parents of children who died in the Sandy Hook tragedy have been subjected to a barrage of insults and death threats from others who think they were part of an elaborate hoax.

During his testimony in court on Tuesday, Heslin claimed that it was Alex who had ignited the fire. Several more persons contributed wood to the project.”

A 57-year-old woman was convicted in 2017 for leaving a voicemail for a grieving parent in which she said, “You going to die, death is coming to you real soon,” and then proceeded to kill herself. For contacting the sister of Victoria Soto, one of the Sandy Hook victims, and falsely and “angry claiming” that the massacre didn’t occur and Soto “never lived,” another man was arrested.

On Tuesday, Heslin testified that he had been abused online and on the street, and that his house and vehicle had been fired at.

“My life has been threatened,” he said to the jurors, as per the transcript. “I’m scared for my life, I’m scared for my well-being.”

When asked by Now This News in 2018 about the number of times his family had moved due to safety concerns, another Sandy Hook victim’s father, Lenny Pozner, said seven.

According to Pozner, a defamation action against Jones was successful last year. “There are those individuals who appreciate it, who are able to suspend their disbelief and enjoy what they hear. When some individuals see it, they believe it to be genuine.”

Defending himself, Jones claims he never sparked violence. On the Joe Rogan Experience in 2019, Jones remarked, “I never said go to people’s residences.”

Defamation trial: What is at stake?

Despite their best efforts, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have had difficulty combating fake news and other types of disinformation. As one of the first high-profile accounts to be banned from major media and social media sites in 2018, Jones has played a key role in this effort.

Due to Jones’ continuing court cases, the future of American justice for victims of damaging falsehoods will be decided. Mark Bankston, Heslin and Lewis’ lawyer, told the jury that “speech is free, but falsehoods you must pay for.”

Jones, on the other hand, has argued that the trial should be framed as a debate on free speech. On the morning of July 26, he showed up to the courthouse with a piece of tape over his lips that said “save the 1st,” a reference to the First Amendment.

“We are no longer in America,” Jones said in a deposition last month, “if questioning public events and free speech is forbidden because it could hurt somebody’s emotions.”

The First Amendment, on the other hand, deals with attempts by the government to censor speech. Defamation lawsuits, on the other hand, are about the injuries produced by false or malicious remarks and do not apply to persons or corporations.

“Show trial” and “distraction” have been used by Jones on InfoWars to describe the case.