(NEW YORK) — A second trial to determine what conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay to Sandy Hook families began Tuesday in Connecticut with an attorney for the families calling what Jones said about the deadliest elementary school shooting in the nation’s history “beyond the pale.”
The attorney, Chris Mattei, told the jury Jones cooked up lies about the massacre to profit off his audience’s fear that the government would take away guns.
“The government staged it. People knew about it in advance. Parents were suspects. They were reading from a script,” Mattei recited some of what Jones said on his show during an opening statement.
The jury will decide how much in damages Jones should pay to an FBI agent who responded to the scene and eight families of victims that Jones called actors.
“None of them wanted to bring this lawsuit. They don’t want to be here,” Mattei said.
Instead, the attorney said the families sought to prevent Jones from preying on other families who experience tragedy.
“Will you stop him? That’s going to be in your hands,” Mattei said.
The plaintiffs successfully sued Jones for defamation in November 2021 and are seeking to hold him financially liable for his comments, which include calling them “crisis actors,” saying the massacre was “staged” and “the fakest thing since the three-dollar bill.”
The defense said the trial was meant to determine damages and urged the jury to refrain from making a statement.
“We don’t want you to do anything here but follow the law as the court instructs you,” defense attorney Norm Pattis said Tuesday. “You’ll hear nothing from the judge about stopping Alex Jones.”
The trial comes a month after a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of one of the victims.
In that trial, Jones was successfully sued by the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre after he claimed that the shooting — where 20 children and six adults were killed — was a hoax, a claim he said he now thinks is “100% real.”
As in that trial, the judge has already entered a default judgment against Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems.
“Alex Jones and Free Speech Systems are liable under Connecticut law,” Judge Barbara Bellis told jurors. “Mr. Jones used multiple channels to distribute these statements to his audience including the InfoWars family of websites.”
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