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Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook libel trial is about to begin. Here’s how it got to this point.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will face a jury of his peers for the first time next week in a libel trial to determine how much he will have to pay the parents of a child killed in a school shooting after spending years peddling lies that the tragic ordeal never happened.

On December 14, 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire. He killed 20 children and six adults in a shooting that former President Barack Obama would later call the worst day of his presidency.

As the families of the dead mourned, the carnival host of conspiracy and disinformation newspaper Infowars worked on his next big move: convincing his listeners that the 6- and 7-year-old children who were killed, as well as the adults who are who died trying to protect them, were part of an elaborate hoax.

This would mark the beginning of Jones’ many future legal troubles.

From lies to real world threats

“My friends, we have a video of Anderson Cooper with a clear blue screen,” Jones said in a 2014 Infowars segment of the CNN anchor interviewing victims of the tragedy two years later.

“He’s not there in the town square,” Jones continued. “We clearly have people standing up and laughing and then fake crying. We clearly have people where it’s actors playing different roles for different people, the building being bulldozed, covering everything.

In 2016, Jones repeated the lie that parents of deceased children were acting.

“I’ve watched a lot of soap operas and I’ve seen actors before. And I know when I’m watching a movie and when I’m watching something real,” Jones said on her show.

The following year, Jones was still spreading the lie that the shooting was faked.

“So here are these people holier than you, when we ask CNN, which is supposed to be on the Sandy Hook site, and all of a sudden they have leaves blowing, and the flowers that’s around, and you see the leaves blow, and they go [gestures]. They have a problem,” Jones said, according to a transcript cited in a lawsuit against him and reviewed by HuffPost. “They recycle a green screen behind them.”

Jones’ dangerous lies had real consequences for the victims of the shooting. In 2017, a Florida woman, Lucy Richards, was sentenced to five months in prison for sending threats to relative Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed in the shooting.

“You’re going to die,” Richards told Pozner in a recorded voicemail. “Death is coming to you very soon.”

As part of his sentence, Richards was ordered not to access Infowars.

Families fight back

In 2018, the parents of two children killed in the shooting filed the first defamation lawsuits against Jones and Infowars, HuffPost was first to report at the time. Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Jesse, as well as parents of 6-year-old Noah, Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, alleged that Jones’ lies led to death threats.

“I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole in his head,” Heslin said then-NBC News host Megyn Kelly in June 2017 Jones segment profiling.

With the new lawsuit, Heslin finally had the chance to hold Jones accountable.

“Even after these people had to go through this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” said attorney Mark Bankston of the Houston law firm Farrar & Ball at HuffPost in 2018. “And those lies were meant to convince his audience that Sandy Hook’s parents are impostors and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.

A jury will determine how much Jones will have to pay the parents of a child who died in Sandy Hook, after Jones spent years peddling lies that the shooting was fake.

HuffPost Illustration/Reuters

Later that year, six Sandy Hook families and an FBI agent filed their own libel suit against Jones in Connecticut. Josh Koskoff of Bridgeport, Connecticut-based law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder told HuffPost at the time that the lawsuit would seek to hold Jones and “his financial network accountable.”

“He knew his claims were false, but he made them anyway to pursue a simple but pathetic goal: to make money by taking the pain away from families,” Koskoff told HuffPost at the time. “This lawsuit seeks to hold Alex Jones and his financial network accountable for these shameful actions.”

Alex Jones loses every case

Over the next few years, Jones repeatedly failed in court as he tried to avoid accountability.

Jones scanned the lawyers as if they had an expiration date, but managed to hold off attorney Norm Pattis, who was recently seen at a comedy club with his pants down and saying the N-word during a set-up.

In a 2019 deposition regarding one of his many defamation lawsuits, Jones was unable to recall basic facts about the school shooting, including the date it happened. .

“I talk four hours a day and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago,” Jones said at the time.

Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson threw his boss under the bus in his own deposition when he admitted to warning Jones about the dangers of spreading lies about Sandy Hook, only to be ignored.

Ultimately, it was Jones’ refusal to provide court-ordered documents that led to the collapse of his already shaky defense. In September, Jones lost two of his Sandy Hook libel cases after Texas judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled for default judgments against Jones for failing to turn over documents. The ruling meant that he and Infowars were held liable for all damages.

Later that same week, Gamble again entered default judgment against Jones in the defamation case brought by Sandy Hook’s relative Heslin, adding to Jones’ third legal loss. And finally, a little over a month after Gamble’s decision, Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis also issued a default judgment against Jones in the case brought by several Sandy Hook families.

Jones had lost his cases before he could see a jury. Now was the time to pay.

Pay

Following the rulings against Jones, the Infowars host attempted to shirk his responsibility to Sandy Hook’s parents by filing for bankruptcy just days before he was to stand trial in Austin, Texas in April for one of his defamation cases.

The bankruptcy scheme delayed the trial, but the law once again caught up with Jones.

On Monday, a jury in Austin will be selected to determine how much Jones and Infowars will ultimately have to pay parents Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, Jesse’s mother, for the pain he inflicted on them for more than half a decade after Jesse’s death. their child.

Opening arguments begin Tuesday in Travis County Court and the trial will be open to the public.

The jury will consider two factors: how much Jones should pay for the damages and how much extra money he should pay based on his net worth. Jones has watched his financial earnings closely for years, but there are clues that provide insight into the value of his empire.

For example, HuffPost reported in January that the Infowars store — which sells a hodgepodge of dietary supplements and survival gear — sold $165 million worth of products from September 2015 to the end of 2018, according to related court documents. in one of the libel suits that Jones recently lost.

And in May, the SPLC reported that Jones had received nearly $8 million in Bitcoin cryptocurrency from an anonymous donor.

Bankston, the attorney representing Heslin and Lewis, told HuffPost that an expert witness will be called to testify about Jones’ finances.

Whatever Jones ends up having to pay will not be the end of his financial hemorrhage. Hell be back in a courtroom in Septemberthis time in Connecticut, where a jury will determine how much he should pay the Sandy Hook families in a separate libel suit.

Bankston said despite a decade of “torment” from Sandy Hook’s parents, Jones will soon face justice.

“After ten years of tormenting these parents and after four years of trying to sabotage their lawsuit, Mr. Jones will finally face the long-awaited public judgment for committing the most vile and despicable libel campaign in American history. “, Bankston told HuffPost. in a report. “We look forward to showing this jury the previously hidden details of Mr. Jones’ monstrous acts of revenge against the parents who begged him to stop peddling his lies.”

Heslin is determined to get justice through the courts – not just monetary compensation for the pain Jones has inflicted on his family. Others seem to agree: Every Sandy Hook victim involved in the Connecticut lawsuit rejected Jones’ attempts to avoid a jury when he tried in March to settle the lawsuit by offering $120,000 per plaintiff.

“With me, it was never about money – it was about principle,” Heslin told the News-Times in Connecticut at the time. “I’m not surprised Jones is trying to settle before it’s on trial, but I’m going to be on trial for fighting it. I will argue everything.