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Parents of Sandy Hook Victim at Alex Jones Trial Seek $150 Million in Damages

TX — AUSTIN As a pretext for gun control measures, lawyers for one victim’s family demanded $150 million from Alex Jones on Tuesday. The claim was made by the conspiracy broadcaster who claimed the parents were complicit with the government’s false Sandy Hook school tragedy.

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Pool photo by Briana Sanchez

According to Sandy Hook victim’s attorney, Mark Bankston, the $150 million figure proposed by Alex Jones and his Austin, Texas-based Infowars network is the first time the family of a Sandy Hook victim has placed a monetary value on the suffering Jones and his network caused by spreading lies about the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings in Newtown that claimed the lives of 20 first graders and six teachers in that Connecticut town.

Mr. Jones’s fraudulent assertions were “the most vicious and vile campaign of defamation and slander in American history,” Mr. Bankston said, calling the financial sum “appropriate.”

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After hearing both parties’ opening comments, Mr. Jones became visibly frightened by the proposed settlement. “Show trial” and “constitution-destroying, absolute, entire and full travesty” were some of the words he used to describe the proceedings during a break in the courtroom.

The Infowars.com emblem and the words “Save the 1st,” a reference to the First Amendment, were printed on a piece of duct tape that Jones briefly covered his mouth with before the trial began. As Mr. Bankston was making his opening statement remarks, Mr. Jones shook his head and placed the tape with the slogan on the table in front of him.

He and Jesse Lewis’ parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, were sat just a few feet away.

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The first of three trials in which juries will determine the amount of damages to be paid to the relatives of the victims. After Mr. Jones intimated on his show in 2017 that Mr. Helsin’s broadcast remembrance of cradling Jesse’s body shortly after the shooting was untrue, they have endured the agony they are going to describe in this first trial. Accusations and threats have followed the family ever since.

Noah Pozner’s parents, Veronique De La Rosa and Leonard Pozner, will testify at a second trial in Austin in September. The families of eight more Sandy Hook victims will testify in the third trial in Connecticut throughout the month of December.

Last year, a judge determined that Jones was culpable because he had consistently failed to comply with court-ordered papers and evidence. Now, the families of the 10 victims are suing him for damages. For this summer’s trials, juries will award the families damages as a result of their victories in those cases.

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As a result of the murder of their son, Mr. Jones’s lawyer Federico Reynal stated during jury selection on Monday that he would urge jurors to pay his clients a single dollar in compensatory damages.

“The $150 million prize represents one dollar for each American who indicated in 2013, in a study conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University, that the Sandy Hook shooting was either certainly or potentially fabricated,” Mr. Bankston said in a statement released on Tuesday, via the New York Times.

When Neil and Scarlett’s son Jesse was murdered, “Mr. Jones robbed Neil and Scarlett for ten years so that Mr. Jones could increase his sales,” he stated. In light of the magnitude of the injury caused by the defendants’ conduct, “it is a monumental decision.”

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Lawyer Federico Reynal referred to Alex Jones as “one of the most controversial individuals in this country” in his opening statements on Tuesday.

Reynal described Bankston’s presentation as “a conspiracy of lies” in his opening remarks.

Mr. Reynal said he was “proud” to represent Alex Jones and his company. One of the most divisive individuals in our country, he has been “canceled, penalized for utterances relating to this case,” according to the statement.

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Jones’ long-held assertion that he was just reiterating the fraudulent statements of others, including members of his Infowars audience, was reiterated by Mr. Reynal. In reality, barely hours after the shooting had occurred, Mr. Jones broadcast a slew of untruths about it.

Reynal also argued that claims, no matter how outrageous, are not defamatory if the person making them believes it to be true, or, as Mr. Jones has claimed, they can’t tell truth from falsehood because they have been misled by what Mr. Reynal called “mainstream media lies,” which he referred to as “the media’s smear campaign.”

Mr. Jones’s legal team was repeatedly warned by Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble to disregard their First Amendment rights since he had already abandoned his right to a trial in the defamation proceedings.

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Mr. Bankston stated that the $150 million suggested award would only be for compensatory damages. Punitive damages may also be awarded by the jury. According to Mr. Jones’ broadcasts, he has made more than $50 million in recent years from the sale of diet supplements as well as conspiracy-themed movies and books and protective body armor. During the trial, Mr. Bankston intends to introduce records from Infowars that show how Mr. Jones’ broadcasts regarding Sandy Hook boosted Infowars’ viewership and product sales.

They want the trials to raise awareness among Americans about the growing harm done to vulnerable individuals and civic life by viral political lies, whether phony theories denying mass killings or false accusations of an election theft in 2020 that drove violence to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“This is a case about making a difference,” Mr. Bankston told the jury on Tuesday. It’s up to you to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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Mr. Jones, a Trump ally who broadcast the incident live on Jan. 6 on his channel, is being investigated for his alleged involvement in the riot’s organizing.

Correction: 

July 26, 2022

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An earlier version of this article misstated the​ timing of jury selection in the Alex Jones trial underway in Austin, Texas. Jury selection occurred on Monday, not Tuesday, and it was on Monday that Mr. Jones’s lawyer, Federico Reynal, suggested that he would ask the jurors to award the parents in the case a single dollar in damages.   

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