Alex Jones’ damages trial begins for his false claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax

Alex Jones’ damages trial begins for his false claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has repeatedly “lied and attacked parents of murdered children”. As he told his Infowars audience That the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, an attorney for one of the victims’ parents told a Texas jury Tuesday at the start of a trial to determine how much Jones should pay them for defamation.

Jones created a “massive campaign of lies” and “recruited wild extremists from the fringes of the Internet … who were as brutal as Mr. Jones wanted them to be” toward the families of 20 first-graders and six educators killed in the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, attorney Mark. Bankston looked at Jones and shook his head occasionally during his opening statement.

Jones tapped into the explosive popularity of the Sandy Hook conspiracy story that became an “obsession” for the website years after the shooting, said Bankston, who played video clips of Jones and claimed on his program that the shooting was a hoax and that “the whole thing was a complete fake. . . .” . It didn’t happen.”

The House Select Committee presented the findings at a Jan. 6 hearing
A video of Alex Jones plays on screen during a House Select Committee meeting investigating the January 6 attacks at the Cannon House office building on July 12, 2022 in Washington, DC.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Anticipating what Jones’ defense would be, Bankston told the jury, “This has nothing to do with the Constitution. Defamation is not protected by free speech … speech is free, but you pay for lies.”

He said his clients, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed in the attack, will seek $150 million for emotional distress and loss of dignity, and more for punitive damages.

Texas court And Another in Connecticut Jones is held liable for libel for portraying the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued default judgments against Jones without trial because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

In total, the families of eight Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school are suing Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.

During his opening statement, Jones’ lawyer Andino Reinal called Jones “one of the most polarizing figures in this nation,” who made statements about Sandy Hook “that we don’t dispute were wrong.” But he said Jones had already been punished for those statements when he was kicked out of Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for violating their hate speech policies.

Jones, who arrived in court wearing tape with the message “Save the 1st” printed on her face — a clear reference to her First Amendment right to free speech — “has already been overturned” and lost millions of dollars, said Renal, who urged the jury to limit damages to $1. did

Renal paints a picture of a talk show host who “tries to give an alternative point of view” but is duped by some of his guests.

“Alex Jones was wrong to believe these people, but he didn’t do it regardless. He did it because he believed it … he believed that a citizen has a right to go to InfoWare and talk about what their questions are,” Renal said.

He also called the case an important case for freedom of speech.

“I believe in his right to say, and I believe in the right of every American to see, hear and believe what they want,” Renal said.

Between the two sides’ opening statements, Jones stepped outside the courtroom to roar at reporters, calling it a “kangaroo court” and a “show trial” that was an attack on the First Amendment.

The first witness to testify was retired Connecticut State Police Detective Daniel Yehudi, who was the lead investigator of the Sandy Hook attack. He said 26 law enforcement agencies responded to the shooting and there is no doubt what happened that day.

Part of his job was to help families who were harassed by deniers. He said law enforcement puts deniers into three categories: the mentally ill, those who believed bad or incomplete information, and those who knew the truth but twisted it for their own “power or money.”

That final team, Jew said, “was the most dangerous. That’s where we put Alex Jones.”

Jews called supporting the Sandy Hook family the “most honorable” thing he’s been a part of.

“It’s absolutely terrifying the amount of trauma they’ve had to endure in the wake of losing a loved one,” he said.

Among others expected to testify Tuesday was Informs producer Daria Karpova.

The jury could deal Jones a major financial blow that would put his scheming business star in deep jeopardy. In addition to being banned from major social media platforms, he claims he is owed millions of dollars — a claim denied by the plaintiffs.

Jones has since admitted that the shooting took place. During a deposition in April, Jones insisted that he was not responsible for what Sandy Hook parents say they endured as a result of the hoax conspiracy, including death threats and harassment by Jones’ followers.

Jones claimed in court records last year that he had a negative net worth of $20 million, but attorneys for the Sandy Hook family painted a different financial picture.

Court records show that Jones’ Infores store, which sells nutritional supplements and survival gear, made more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018. Jones also asked listeners to donate money to his infomercials

The Texas trial began nearly two months after one of the gunmen 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, located about 145 miles southwest of Austin. It was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook.

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