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Sandy Hook: Alex Jones calls for a new trial following 'irrational' $1billion compensation award

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (pictured in court in September) has called for a Connecticut judge to throw out a verdict ordering him to pay almost $1 billion to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and order a new defamation trial instead

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has called for a Connecticut judge to throw out a verdict ordering him to pay almost $1 billion to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and order a new defamation trial instead.

Jones was ordered to pay at least $965 million to the families of the 20 students and six teachers killed in the 2012 massacre after he repeatedly and falsely claimed they and their loved ones were actors who faked the tragedy.

Jones’ lies meant the families not only had to deal with the sheer grief of their loved ones being killed by a gunman but also years of harassment and threats from the far-right presenter’s followers. 

But now, Jones, who has acknowledged in recent years that the shooting did occur, has filed a request for there to be a new trial, claiming that Judge Barbara Bellis’ pretrial rulings resulted in an unfair trial and a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’.

‘Additionally, the amount of the compensatory damages award exceeds any rational relationship to the evidence offered at trial,’ Jones’ lawyers, Norm Pattis and Kevin Smith, wrote in the motion.

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (pictured in court in September) has called for a Connecticut judge to throw out a verdict ordering him to pay almost $1 billion to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and order a new defamation trial instead

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (pictured in court in September) has called for a Connecticut judge to throw out a verdict ordering him to pay almost $1 billion to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and order a new defamation trial instead

Plaintiff William Sherlach, left, hugs attorney Josh Koskoff while plaintiff Nicole Hockley hugs attorney Chris Mattei following the jury verdict and reading of monetary damages in the Alex Jones defamation trial at Superior Court on October 12

Plaintiff William Sherlach, left, hugs attorney Josh Koskoff while plaintiff Nicole Hockley hugs attorney Chris Mattei following the jury verdict and reading of monetary damages in the Alex Jones defamation trial at Superior Court on October 12

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the 15 plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Jones, declined to comment on the filing Saturday, but said he and other attorneys for the Sandy Hook families will be filing a brief opposing Jones’ request.

Jones’ filing comes after the 48-year-old, who was not present in court for the verdict and instead broadcast his reaction to the ruling live on InfoWars, said he was ‘bankrupt’. 

Jones, who owns the InfoWars fake news website, told his viewers that paying the nearly $1 billion compensation to the families of the victims ‘ain’t gonna be happening, ain’t no money’, despite the ruling. 

But through his cult following, analysts say that Texas native has amassed a fortune worth hundreds of millions, and note he has been taking steps to shield his fortune.

InfoWars’ finances are not public, but according to trial testimony, the site brought in revenue of $165 million between 2016 and 2018. An economist in the Texas case estimated that Jones is personally worth between $135 million and $270 million.

Legal experts have said he could be jailed if he is hiding assets, after he allegedly transferred a $3m house into his wife’s name and pre-emptively filed for bankruptcy.

They warned that Jones ‘will be hounded for the rest of his days’ if he does not stump up the funds and could be charged with contempt – which could bring a crushing end to his fake news media empire. 

An FBI agent who responded to the shooting and relatives of eight children and adults killed in the massacre sued Jones for defamation and infliction of emotional distress over his pushing the bogus narrative that the shooting was a hoax staged by ‘crisis actors’ to impose more gun control. 

Two Connecticut State Police officers accompany a class of students, and two adults, out of Sandy Hook Elementary School after a gunman entered the school and shot dead 20 children and six teachers on December 14, 2012

Two Connecticut State Police officers accompany a class of students, and two adults, out of Sandy Hook Elementary School after a gunman entered the school and shot dead 20 children and six teachers on December 14, 2012 

Jones repeatedly claimed that the 2012 massacre, which left 20 students and six teachers dead, was a 'hoax' and had been 'staged'

Jones repeatedly claimed that the 2012 massacre, which left 20 students and six teachers dead, was a ‘hoax’ and had been ‘staged’

Jones was ordered to pay $965 million in compensatory damages to the families and the jury said punitive damages also should be awarded. Judge Bellis has scheduled hearings for early next month to determine the amount of the punitive damages.

During the trial, victims’ relatives said in often-emotional testimony that they were threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the lies told on Jones’ show. 

Strangers showed up at the families’ homes to record them and confronted them in public. People hurled abusive comments on social media. Relatives said they received death and rape threats.

The verdicts came after another jury in Texas in August ordered Jones and his company to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of another slain Sandy Hook child. A third trial over the hoax claims, involving two more Sandy Hook parents, is expected to be held near the end of the year in Texas.

Plaintiff Francine Wheeler wipes a tear as her jury award is read with her fellow plaintiffs in the Alex Jones defamation trial at the Superior Court in Waterbury, Conn, on October 12

Plaintiff Francine Wheeler wipes a tear as her jury award is read with her fellow plaintiffs in the Alex Jones defamation trial at the Superior Court in Waterbury, Conn, on October 12 

Jones, who has acknowledged in recent years that the shooting did occur, has blasted the lawsuits and trials on his Austin, Texas-based Infowars show, calling them unfair and a violation of his free speech rights.

But he lost his right to present those defenses when the judges in Connecticut and Texas found him liable for damages by default without trials, for what they called Jones’ repeated failures to turn over some evidence including financial documents and website analytics to the Sandy Hook lawyers.

With liability already established, the trials in both states focused only on how much Jones should pay in damages.

Pattis, Jones’ lawyer, wrote in the motions filed Friday that there was a lack of evidence directly connecting Jones with the people who harassed and threatened the Sandy Hook families. Pattis said the trial resembled a ‘memorial service, not a trial.’

‘Yes, the families in this case suffered horribly as a result of the murder of their children,’ Pattis wrote, adding that Jones did not send people to harass and threaten the families.

‘There was no competent evidence offered at this trial that he ever did,’ he wrote. ‘Instead, there was a shocking abuse of a disciplinary default and its transformation into a series of half-truths that misled a jury and resulted in substantial injustice.

TIMELINE: The legal fallout from Alex Jones’ false Sandy Hook claims

A Connecticut jury on Wednesday ordered U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $965 million for spreading falsehoods about the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting. Here is a timeline of what led up to the verdict.

Jones has since admitted that the shooting took place.

December 2012 – A gunman kills 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, using a Remington Bushmaster rifle. The shooting ends when the gunman, Adam Lanza, takes his own life.

April 2013 – Jones calls Sandy Hook a ‘government operation’with a ‘inside job written all over it’ during an Infowars broadcast, one of at least a dozen occasions when he and other Infowars contributors spread false claims about the shooting.

April 16, 2018 – Three parents of Sandy Hook victims file two separate lawsuits against Jones and the parent company of his Infowars site, Free Speech Systems LLC, in Texas state court.

May 23, 2018 – Fourteen relatives of Sandy Hook victims sue Jones and four entities connected to Jones in Connecticut state court.

Oct. 31, 2018 – Another Sandy Hook parent sues Jones and Free Speech Systems in Texas, where Jones’ radio show and webcast are based.

September 2021 – A Texas judge enters a default judgment finding Jones liable for defamation after he repeatedly flouted court orders and failed to turn over documents to the plaintiffs.

November 2021 – A judge presiding over the Connecticut case also enters a default judgment against Jones for failure to comply with court orders.

April 2022 – Five shell entities controlled by Jones file for bankruptcy protection in Texas, which would typically pause all lawsuits against them. 

The case was dismissed in June after the Sandy Hook parents intervened, arguing it was a stall tactic.

Aug. 5, 2022 – A Texas jury finds that Jones and Free Speech Systems must pay two Sandy Hook parents $49.3 million in total damages after a two-week trial.

Aug. 29, 2022 – Free Speech Systems agrees to face trial in Connecticut despite filing for bankruptcy in July, which would normally shield it from lawsuits.

Oct. 12, 2022 – A Connecticut jury orders Jones to pay at least $965 million in damages to numerous families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Attorney fees will be determined in November. 

 

How Alex Jones makes millions peddling lies about some of America’s worst mass killings: Conspiracy king spouted false claims Sandy hook was a hoax and the FBI staged the Boston marathon bombing as he built up empire worth $270m

By Chris Jones for MailOnline 

Alex Jones has been ordered to pay almost $1 billion to numerous families of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting – the largest defamation suit damages in US history.

For the families of the 20 students and six teachers killed in the 2012 massacre in Connecticut, it has been a long journey to see justice served against Jones, who repeatedly and falsely claimed they and their loved ones were actors who faked the tragedy, and emboldened his millions of followers to turn against them.

But for Jones, the road to being ordered by the Connecticut court to pay at least $965 million to the families began long before that tragic day almost ten years ago.

Since the mid-90s, the 48-year-old far-right presenter has grown his cult following from a fringe corner of the internet and radio, to seeing 10 million people visit his InfoWars fake news website every month in 2017, and amassing a vast fortune thought to be worth as much as $270 million.

In addition to the conspiracies surrounding Sandy Hook, Jones has propagated false theories about 9/11, to ‘pizzagate’, to the Boston marathon bombings – to name a few.

He has also been connected heavily to the January 6, 2021 assault on Capitol Hill – in which supporters of then-president Donald Trump attempted to stop the counting of electoral college votes that would formalize the election victory of Joe Biden.

Trump has expressed admiration for Jones, and has parroted a number of disproven conspiracies advanced by the controversial host – including claims about Barack Obama’s birthplace and about the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Jones has not always been aligned with Trump, however, criticizing him on numerous occasions while he was in the White House – and where he falls on the political spectrum is not as simple as red vs blue.

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (pictured in 2020) was on Wednesday ordered to pay almost $1 billion to numerous families of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting - the largest defamation suit damages in US history

Infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (pictured in 2020) was on Wednesday ordered to pay almost $1 billion to numerous families of victims of the Sandy Hook mass shooting – the largest defamation suit damages in US history

While his supporters are mostly from the alt-right, his anti-establishment views have also resulted in him gaining supporters from the extreme left – particularly among younger audiences online.

Through his cult following, analysts say that Texas native has amassed a fortune worth hundreds of millions, and note he has been taking steps to shield his fortune.

InfoWars’ finances are not public, but according to trial testimony, the site brought in revenue of $165 million between 2016 and 2018. An economist in the Texas case estimated that Jones is personally worth between $135 million and $270 million.

Jones was born in February 1974 in Dallas, Texas. After leaving high school in 1993, he began his broadcasting career working in Cable TV, filling in for absent hosts.

He quickly became known for his conspiracy theories and lies, claiming the federal government was behind 1995 Oklahoma City bombing – as opposed to the convicted anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

In 1996, Jones switched to radio, and began to broadcast about the New World Order conspiracy theory – a belief that secretive, powerful elite with a globalist agenda conspiring to rule the world – a theory that often has anti-semitic themes.

In 1999, he was fired from the station later that same year for refusing to broaden his subject matter, and began to broadcast his own show from home.

Pictured: The north side of the Albert P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shows 19 April 1995 the devastation caused by a fuel-and fertilizer truck bomb that was detonated early 19 April in front of the building. Alex Jones shared the conspiracy theory that the government was behind the bombing in his early days working as a radio host

Pictured: The north side of the Albert P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shows 19 April 1995 the devastation caused by a fuel-and fertilizer truck bomb that was detonated early 19 April in front of the building. Alex Jones shared the conspiracy theory that the government was behind the bombing in his early days working as a radio host

Some time around 1999, he and his then-wife Kelly founded InfoWars – which now operates under Free Speech Systems LLC – as a mail-order outlet for the sale of their conspiracy-oriented videos.

By 2001, his station was syndicated on around 100 stations – and he quickly realized he could monetize his brand of online messaging.

Today, Infowars reportedly garners over 3 million unique readers and 25 million total site views a month. Higher numbers have been clocked in the past, allowing him to stockpile his vast fortune.

The presenter has boasted an impressive property portfolio. In 2015, he purchased a 5,467-square-foot mansion overlooks the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, Texas, for an undisclosed fee. Before its sale, it was listed on the market for $2.275 million.

In February, the deed to the property was transferred from a trust connected to Jones to his current wife, Erika Wulff Jones, whom he married in 2017 and shared one child with.

He also owns a $1.8 million waterfront retreat in Austin about 20 miles from his other house. He purchased the 1,578 square-foot house overlooking Lake Travis with his first wife, Kelly Jones, in November 2009.

Alex and Kelly Jones married in in 2007, and have three children together. Following their 2015 divorce, records show the house was transferred to Alex Jones.

In the past, he also also owned other multi-million properties around Texas, which has has since sold. One, a 7,000-square-foot mansion in West Lake Hills, Texas, was last on the market for $5.5 million. 

This six-acre estate, 20 miles from Jones' Austin home, is still owned by the broadcaster, it is believed

This six-acre estate, 20 miles from Jones’ Austin home, is still owned by the broadcaster, it is believed

Jones' $3 million home in Austin, Texas. In February he transferred ownership to his wife Erica

Jones’ $3 million home in Austin, Texas. In February he transferred ownership to his wife Erica

Pictured: Alex Jones is seen out to walk his dog on Sunday morning with his wife Erika Wulff Jones in Omaha, Nebraska, August 14

Pictured: Alex Jones is seen out to walk his dog on Sunday morning with his wife Erika Wulff Jones in Omaha, Nebraska, August 14

On September 11, 2001, Jones said on his radio show that there was a ’98 percent chance [the 9/11 attacks] was a government-orchestrated controlled bombing.’

He set about spreading the conspiracy theory that the George Bush administration was behind the most deadly terrorist attack on US soil, and would go on to become a leading figure in the ‘9/11 truther’ movement.

Since then, he has gone on to spread several other falsehoods, and he’s proved again and again there’s nothing he won’t say to build his audience – while profiting dearly from a gullible audience.

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing (which killed three and injured 280), the 2011 shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the 2016 murder of 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting in which 59 died — all, Jones has said, were ‘false-flag’ hoaxes involving ‘crisis actors’ that were orchestrated by government officials so they could crack down on Americans’ civil liberties.

He has levelled the same accusations at the victims of school shootings, including Sandy Hook in 2012, and the Stoneman Douglas school shooting of 2018. He stated that Stoneman Douglas survivor-turned activist David Hogg was a crisis actor.

He also claimed that Brennan Gilmore, who shared a video of the Charlottesville car attack in which a car drove through counter protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally, was acting as part of a false flag operation orchestrated by the government.

Jones has claimed Michelle Obama is actually a man, Lady Gaga carried out a satanic rite during a Super Bowl half-time show and the Pentagon has developed a ‘gay bomb’, allowing the chemicals from it to leak into the water supply so that frogs have turned homosexual.

He is also famous for helping to spread the notorious ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory about senior Democrats running an occult pedophile ring from the basement of a Washington DC restaurant – Comet Ping Pong pizzeria.

Jones is also famous for his rants and unhinged monologues.

‘We’re going to return the republic. We’ll never be perfect but, my God, we’re not going to keep babies alive and harvest their organs,’ he said on The Alex Jones Show in 2015. ‘We’re not going to sell their parts for women’s cosmetics. We’re not gonna have Pepsi with baby flavouring in it.’

On September 11, 2001, Jones said on his radio show that there was a '98 percent chance [the 9/11 attacks] was a government-orchestrated controlled bombing'

On September 11, 2001, Jones said on his radio show that there was a ’98 percent chance [the 9/11 attacks] was a government-orchestrated controlled bombing’

Jones was ordered by a Connecticut jury on Wednesday to pay at least $965 million in damages to numerous families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting. He had repeatedly claimed the sick massacre - which left 20 students and six teachers dead - was a 'hoax' and had been 'staged' in the years since it happened

Jones was ordered by a Connecticut jury on Wednesday to pay at least $965 million in damages to numerous families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting. He had repeatedly claimed the sick massacre – which left 20 students and six teachers dead – was a ‘hoax’ and had been ‘staged’ in the years since it happened

Jones suggested the Boston marathon bombings of 2013 (pictured) were carried out by federal agents

Jones suggested the Boston marathon bombings of 2013 (pictured) were carried out by federal agents

Several stations dropped his show as a result of the theories, while others picked it up. In 2018, InfoWars was dropped by YouTube, iTunes, Facebook and Spotify in a crackdown against misinformation.

But that hasn’t stopped him from carving out his own vast media empire.

By 2010 he was attracting about 2 million listeners each week. By 2016, he claimed to the Washington Post that his radio show, then carried by 129 stations, had a daily audience of 5 million, while he said his video streams topped 80 million in a month.

Through a combination of advertising and donations, Jones has amassed his vast fortune – although exactly how much he is worth is unknown. 

InfoWars peddles dietary supplements – with names such as ‘Super Male Vitality’ and ‘Brain Force Plus’ – and survivalist equipment which he sells on InfoWars. 

Economist Bernard Pettingill testified at a separate trial in Texas August that Alex Jones and his company’s net worth could be as high as $270 million. Pettingill said Jones rakes in approximately $70 million a year from his website Infowars.com.

He added Jones likely makes a significant amount from products he sells, like vitamin supplements. He tracked Jones’ funds and found the media figure brought in $165 million from September 2015 to December 2018. 

Infowars reportedly garners over 3 million unique readers and 25 million total site views a month, which Pettingill said contributes to his finances.

He also said Jones took a $54 million loan from one of his companies, which makes his net worth appear smaller. Over three years, ‘It averages to $53.2 million-a-year, but that is the starting point,’ Pettingill said.

Jones also withdrew $61.9 million from Free Speech Systems in 2021 and another $18 million from 2015-2016.

The money that flows into Jones’ companies eventually funnels its way to him, said Pettingill. ‘He is a very successful man,’ Pettingill said, calling Jones a ‘maverick’ and ‘revolutionary’ for finding ways to monetize his online messaging.

Jones claimed for years that the massacre was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans' guns. Jones is seen on August 3 during his Texas trial

Jones claimed for years that the massacre was staged as part of a government plot to take away Americans’ guns. Jones is seen on August 3 during his Texas trial

Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, speaks to the media after jurors returned a $965 million dollar judgement in the defamation trial against Alex Jones

Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, speaks to the media after jurors returned a $965 million dollar judgement in the defamation trial against Alex Jones

Multiple bankruptcy filings revealed that Jones has profited approximately $22 million over the previous 17 months and has received $9 million in cryptocurrency donations from unknown beneficiaries.

During the trial, Jones’ main company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy as a small business in an attempt to protect Jones and the company from oversight that would occur if they filed as a bigger corporation.

Wednesday’s verdict, which came after three weeks of testimony in a state court in Waterbury, Connecticut, far outstripped the $49 million Jones was ordered to pay in August by a Texas jury in a similar case brought by two other Sandy Hook parents.

The Connecticut verdict applies to both Jones and Free Speech Systems LLC.

He faces a third trial in Texas that could result in hefty damages again being awarded in a lawsuit filed by the parents of another child killed in the shooting.  

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