A Connecticut jury ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $965 million for repeatedly claiming on his Infowars platform that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a government hoax. The verdict concluded a nearly monthlong trial on how much Jones should pay after he was found liable for defamation in a case brought by eight families whose loved ones died in the shooting and an FBI first responder. Judge Barbara Bellis had issued a default judgment against Jones after he failed to provide information about his business and other communications, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Jones claimed the shooting in Newtown, Ct., in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults, didn’t happen and the victims were “crisis actors.” The Connecticut case is one of several lawsuits seeking to hold him liable for his statements. Families say they have been subject to repeated harassment from Jones’s followers who believed the families were part of a conspiracy. A Texas jury in August ordered Jones to pay $50 million to parents of a 6-year-old who was killed. That trial took place in Austin, where Infowars and Jones are based. A bankruptcy proceeding involving Infowars parent Free Speech Systems LLC is under way that could delay payments the families receive. Jones ran a broadcast while the verdict was being announced, criticizing the jury’s award and asking for donations for appeals and bankruptcy costs. Jones’s attorneys argued that he shouldn’t be the scapegoat for what happened to the families. On the stand, Jones said he was done apologizing for the shooting and called the plaintiffs’ attorneys ambulance chasers