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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Alex Jones

Defamation trial between Alex Jones and parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims to begin

The trial will determine how much Jones must pay for falsely telling his audience the classroom shooting was a hoax.

JURY SELECTION BEGAN today in a trial that will determine for the first time how much Infowars host Alex Jones must pay parents for falsely telling his audience that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

The trial in Austin, Texas — where the conspiracy theorist lives and broadcasts his show — follows months of delays.

Twenty of the victims were children between six and seven years old, and six were adult staff members.

The event is remembered as the deadliest classroom shooting in US history.

Jones has racked up fines for ignoring court orders and he put Infowars into bankruptcy protection just before the trial was originally set to start in April.

At stake for Jones is another potentially major financial blow that could put his businesses into deeper jeopardy.

He has already been banned from YouTube, Facebook and Spotify over violating hate-speech policies.

As well as the trial involving the parents of two Sandy Hook families, damages have yet to be awarded in separate defamation cases for other families of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The lawsuits do not ask jurors to award a specific amount against Jones.

embedded267859682 J Scott Applewhite / AP/PA A video of Alex Jones is shown to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. J Scott Applewhite / AP/PA / AP/PA

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control.

In both states, judges have issued default judgments against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

The Texas trial begins about two months after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, which is about 230 kilometres south-west of Austin.

Families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school are suing Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.

Jones has since acknowledged that the shooting took place.

During a deposition in April, Jones insisted he wasn’t responsible for the suffering that Sandy Hook parents say they have endured because of the hoax conspiracy, including death threats and harassment by Jones’ followers.

“No, I don’t (accept) responsibility because I wasn’t trying to cause pain and suffering,” Jones said, according to the transcripts made public this month.

He continued: “They are being used and their children who can’t be brought back (are) being used to destroy the First Amendment.”

Jones claimed in court records last year that he had a negative net worth of $20 million dollars (€19.55 million), but lawyers for Sandy Hook families have painted a different financial picture.

Court records show that Jones’ Infowars store, which sells nutritional supplements and survival gear, made more than $165 million dollars ( €161 million) between 2015 and 2018.

Jones has also urged listeners on his Infowars programme to donate money.

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