New York Daily News: By Joseph Wilkinson – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to families of Sandy Hook victims in a major court decision against him on Wednesday.
The “Infowars” host was sued in Connecticut by eight families and an FBI agent after spreading baseless theories that the horrifying elementary school shooting, in which 26 people were killed, had been faked. It was the second trial Jones has faced about his false claims.
After losing a summary judgment in the case, Jones showed up for the trial’s penalty phase, which began in September. The jury determined Wednesday that he should pay $965 million to the 15 plaintiffs as compensatory damages for slander and emotional distress.
The lawsuit accused Jones and his talk show’s parent company, Free Speech Systems, of using the 2012 mass killing to boost his audience. Jones’ audience spiked whenever he discussed the Sandy Hook massacre on his show, and he also made money off products sold.
The flamboyant talk show host lost a similar case in Texas, in which one family was awarded nearly $50 million. He appealed that decision, which came in August, and quickly promised to appeal Wednesday’s decision, too.
Jones was livestreaming his show away from court when the decision came, reportedly telling audiences: “Hey, folks, don’t go buying big homes.”
Parents of the Sandy Hook victims sobbed as the verdict was read. Later outside the Waterbury, Conn., court, Robbie Parker, who lost his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, in the mass shooting, said that he was proud that “we were able to accomplish this, just to simply tell the truth.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys argued for millions in damages for each family. Jones wanted to get off by paying just $1.
The families could be forced into another legal battle before they see any money. Jones’ company filed for bankruptcy ahead of his Texas trial, though lawyers for the Sandy Hook families have questioned the legitimacy of those claims. He continues routinely filming his “InfoWars” show.
Victims’ family members tearfully testified against Jones throughout the case — held about 20 miles from where the massacre took place. They recounted the horror of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting and the subsequent terror that came from Jones’ followers when he made his bogus claims.
Emilie Parker’s parents described fearing that Jones’ fans would descend on Emilie’s funeral to harass them. The Parkers received emails calling their daughter a “whore” and accusing them of faking their grief for the cameras.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” father Robbie Parker told the court.
Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, received rape threats in the mail. Mark Barden, father of 7-year-old victim Daniel Barden, said people urinated on his son’s grave.
Before taking the stand in September, Jones held a press conference to call the judge a “tyrant” and the Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury a “kangaroo court.”
Jones he first spouted claims that the Sandy Hook shooting had been staged by gun control advocates in 2015. He described the grieving parents as “crisis actors” and doubled down the next year.
After years of harassment from Jones’ fans, several Sandy Hook families took action and sued him. The Parkers said that even after they moved across the country to Washington State they couldn’t escape the abuse.
Jones often refused to acknowledge the lawsuits. He ignored court dates, scorned the discovery phase and recorded “InfoWars” shows while claiming he was too sick to appear in court.
When Jones finally showed up to argue the penalty phase in Texas, where his company is based, he finally conceded that the Sandy Hook shooting was “100 percent real.”
Jones faces a third trial, in Texas toward the end of the year, in a lawsuit filed by another set of parents of a student killed in the massacre.