By Jack Queen
WATERBURY, Conn. (Reuters) – A lawyer who works for Alex Jones’ Infowars testified from the witness stand on Wednesday that the conspiracy theorist who claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax knew that his words could drive followers to his empire.
Jones “knows that what he talks about translates to sales” of his conspiracy-oriented products, Brittany Paz told jurors at the second day of a civil trial to determine how much Jones owes relatives of the shooting’s victims.
Jurors will decide how much Jones and Infowars’ parent Free Speech Systems LLC must pay 13 relatives and an FBI agent who responded to the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Twenty students and six staff members were killed after Adam Lanza opened fire, before later killing himself.
Jones later spreads false claims that the government staged the Sandy Hook shooting with crisis actors as a pretext for seizing guns, and that the families faked their children’s deaths.
He has since acknowledged that the shooting occurred, but the families say he should pay for their pain and the harassment they suffered from his followers.
The trial began on Tuesday, and is expected to last five weeks.
With Paz on the witness stand, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Christopher Mattei tried to show jurors that traffic to Infowars’ website skyrocketed after Jones dismissed the shooting as bogus.
Jurors were told that views of Infowars articles soared by nearly half to 427 million in 2013 from 286 million, and that other metrics shot up between 2014 and 2016, when Jones was hosting Sandy Hook deniers on his show.
Paz tested that Infowars shaped its programming around topics that drove the most buyers to its products, which include storable food, fluoride-free toothpaste and supplements.