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Alex Jones owes nearly $1 billion for Sandy Hook lies, Connecticut jury rules

Conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones speaks with the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during a trial to determine the amount of money Jones owes for spreading the lie that the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown didn’t happen.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones speaks with the media outside Waterbury Superior Court during a trial to determine the amount of money Jones owes for spreading the lie that the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown didn’t happen.

Alex Jones will owe families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting $965 million for promoting the lie that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, a Connecticut jury determined Wednesday afternoon.

The six-member jury reached a unanimous verdict, awarding tens of millions of dollars to each of the 15 plaintiffs in the case.

Several of the family members sat crying in the courtroom as the verdict was announced.

Jurors spent days deliberating how much money Jones owed. A judge last year found Jones and his company liable by default for defaming and inflicting emotional distress on the plaintiffs.

Twenty children and six educators were killed in the shooting.

Family members of those killed gathered outside the Waterbury court Wednesday afternoon to react to the jury’s verdict.

Erica Lafferty said she’s thankful for the message sent by the jury – that truth matters. Her mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was the school principal killed in the shooting.

“After almost a decade of threats and messages from conspiracy theorists led by Jones, this is a moment years in the making,” Lafferty told reporters. “And in this big moment, like in every big moment since the shooting, I wish I could just call my mom and tell her about it.”

The trial was marked by emotional testimony from several family members of victims who recounted threats of rape and death – alongside accusations from conspiracy theorists that they were “crisis actors” – a lie Jones promoted on his Infowars program.

During last week’s closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Chris Mattei reminded the jury why they were so important.

"The families were drowning in grief and Alex Jones put his foot on them," Mattei said.

“The lies that started on Dec. 14, 2012, are continuing to this very day,” Mattei said during closing arguments. “In two months it will be 10 years, 10 years since these families lost their loved ones and even now, even now, he's still doing it.”

Jones declined to take the stand as a defense witness.

Jones was sued for defamation in 2018. He’s told many lies about the shooting, including that parents of victims were “crisis actors” and that the tragedy was “as fake as the $3 bill."

Jones has portrayed the families as part of a conspiracy to fake the shooting and take people’s guns. Some families' members described years of harassment — including threats of rape and death — as a result of Jones and the falsehoods spread on his show.

In a similar trial earlier this year in Texas, a jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of a first grader killed at Sandy Hook.

This story will be updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 Connecticut Public Radio. To see more, visit Connecticut Public Radio.

Frankie Graziano joined CPBN in October of 2011 as a sports producer. In addition to reporting for WNPR, Graziano produces feature profiles for CPTV and the web.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.