Stopping ‘bully’ Alex Jones will be the most important work you do, jury told

The trial will decide how much the controversial conspiracy theorist should pay relatives of victims of a mass school shooting.

Alex Jones
Alex Jones

Alex Jones has been portrayed by a lawyer for Sandy Hook families as a bully and by his own attorney as a crank who should be ignored as a trial got under way to determine how much the conspiracy theorist should pay relatives for spreading the lie that the school shooting was a hoax.

The trial is being held in Waterbury, Connecticut, less than 20 miles from Newtown, where 26 children and teachers were shot dead in 2012.

It is the second such trial for Jones, who was ordered by a Texas jury last month to pay nearly 50 million dollars (£43 million) to the parents of one of the murdered children.

Jones was not at the trial on Tuesday but is expected to attend next week.

A jury of three men and three women along with several alternatives will decide how much Jones should pay relatives of eight victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school. Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable without a trial last year after he failed to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.

More than a dozen family members, including parents of some victims, filed into the courtroom to listen to the opening statements and first day of evidence.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, showed jurors data indicating how Jones’s audience increased as he spread lies about the shooting.

He showed photos and videos of things Jones had said and told the panel they already had the tools from their own life experiences to decide what to do in this case.

“What your parents taught you, what your grandparents taught you to know the difference between right and wrong, to know the difference between the truth and a horrible lie, to know the importance of standing up to bullies when they prey on people who are helpless and profit from them, and to know unless you stop a bully, a bully will never stop,” he said.

“And when it comes to stopping Alex Jones, that will be the most important work that you do.”

Jones’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, argued that his client has espoused a number of conspiracy theories over the years, which he has a constitutional right to do.

“At what point do we regard him as a crank on the village green, a person we can walk away from if we choose?” he asked.

Mr Pattis told the jury that although Jones is liable for damages, any award should be minimal and alleged the families were overstating the harm they say Jones caused them.

On his Infowars web show on Tuesday, Jones portrayed himself as the victim of unfair show trials.

“How am I handling it? We’re at war. This is total tyranny,” he said.

“I’ll tell you this, we can appeal this for years. We can beat this. We can stay on air through everything they’re doing if we keep fighting and don’t give up. But it takes massive money to fight three lawsuits in Texas and in Connecticut.”

Judge Bellis sanctioned Jones on Tuesday for failing to turn over analytic data related to his website and the popularity of his show. She told his lawyers that because of that failure, they will not be allowed to argue he did not profit from his Sandy Hook remarks.

The trial is expected to last about a month and feature evidence from Jones and the families.

The Sandy Hook families and former FBI agent William Aldenberg say they have been confronted and harassed for years by people who believed Jones’s false claim that the shooting was staged by crisis actors as part of a plot to take away people’s guns.

Jones, whose web show and Infowars brand are based in Austin, Texas, has been banned from YouTube, Facebook and Spotify for violating hate-speech policies.

Jones now says he believes the shooting was real. At the Texas trial, he said he realised what he said was irresponsible and hurt people’s feelings, and apologised.

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