(NEW YORK) — The plaintiffs’ attorney in a defamation trial against Alex Jones argued the conspiracy theorist should pay more than half a billion dollars to victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for calling the massacre a hoax.
“It is your job to make sure he understands the wreckage he has caused,” the attorney, Chris Mattei, told the Connecticut jury during his closing argument Thursday at a trial to determine how much the Infowars host should pay in damages.
A judge last year found Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, liable in the defamation lawsuit, with plaintiffs that include an FBI agent who responded to the scene and eight families of victims that Jones called actors.
Mattei said $550 million was a “baseline” and did not take into account the emotional distress of the families, who claim Jones violated a Connecticut law that prohibits profiting off of lies.
“He built a lie machine,” Mattei said. “You reap what you sow.”
Mattei asked the six jurors to “think about the scale of the defamation,” citing as one example Jones’ claim the families, “faked their 6- or 7-year-old’s death.”
Defense attorney Norm Pattis said he represents a “despised human being” but balked at the half-billion-dollar sum proposed by the plaintiffs’ attorney.
“It would take a person earning $100,000 a year hundreds of years to make $550 million,” Pattis said during his closing statement.
The defense said the plaintiffs presented no evidence that put a price tag on the harm the families said they suffered.
“You heard from no physician. You saw no medical bill. You heard nothing about a lost wage. No receipt for anything has been put before you,” Pattis said.
Pattis told jurors it was not their job to bankrupt Jones so he would stop broadcasting lies.
“That’s not why you’re here,” Pattis said.
Each of the plaintiffs, which include parents of some of the 20 children killed in the 2012 massacre, have testified during the weeks-long trial, detailing how they have faced years of death threats, rape threats and confrontations outside their homes from people who believed Jones’ lies.
In his closing argument Thursday, Mattei told the jurors that Jones built an argument based on “fear, anger and demonization” that the 2012 mass shooting was a hoax so his loyal audience would buy products he was selling.
Mattei said Jones knew “darn well” his lies about the massacre prompted harassments of the families that sued Jones for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
“As these families were living out their daily lives Alex Jones was waiting to pounce,” Mattei said. “He knew his army was coming after them.”
In his testimony last month, Jones declined to apologize, declaring he was done saying sorry and actually believed the government staged the shooting to generate support for gun control legislation.
“Is this a struggle session? Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones said.
Jones declined to testify as a witness for the defense this week, claiming he could be held in contempt if he says he is “innocent.”
After closing arguments wrapped, Judge Barbara Bellis gave the jury final instructions and they are now deliberating on how much Jones should pay to the plaintiffs.
In August, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the Sandy Hook victims in a separate defamation trial.
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