An attorney for Sandy Hook Elementary School parents defamed by Infowars host Alex Jones is seeking $150 million for his false claims that the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax.
Mr. Jones’ attorneys want to limit damages to $1 million in a jury trial that began Tuesday in Austin, Texas.
The jury trial to determine damages follows a rare default judgment by Texas District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in 2021 that found Mr. Jones liable for defaming not only Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed in the mass shooting, but also another family pursuing charges in Austin whose first-grader was killed.
Mark Bankston, an attorney for Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis, requested that the jury award $75 million for damaging the parents’ reputation and $75 million for emotional distress he said was caused by the noted conspiracy theorist, according to several reports.
“Mr. Jones was continually churning out this idea that Sandy Hook was fake,” Mr. Bankston said, adding that Mr. Jones and Infowars were responsible for the “most despicable and vile campaign of defamation and slander in American history.”
Andino Reynal, Mr. Jones’ attorney, argued that his client and Infowars had already been punished for the false statements, noting their banishment from social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Spotify.
On Tuesday, the jury heard testimony from Daniel Jewiss, the lead investigator of Sandy Hook for the Connecticut State Police, and Infowars producer Daria Karpova, whose testimony was expected to carry over into Wednesday.
A second trial to determine damages in Austin is set for September.
A trial to determine damages in Connecticut is also set for September, following a default judgment in a defamation case that involved the families of eight Sandy Hook victims.
Mr. Jones had said the school shooting that left 20 students and six adult staff members dead was “completely fake with actors” and had “inside job written all over it,” according to Texas Monthly.
His rationale at the time was that the massacre was orchestrated to usher in stricter gun control measures.
Though he has since acknowledged that the shooting took place, the families’ did say they endured death threats and harassment campaigns from his fans because of his original comments.