Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy on Friday, but his attorney said that should not derail the ongoing defamation damages trial in Texas that seeks to force Jones to pay. $150 million or more to the family of one of the children. killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack.
The trial in Austin, where Jones lives and is home to Free Speech Systems, ended its first week of depositions on Friday and is expected to end next week. The bankruptcy filing was announced by Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, later in the day.
Reynal and attorneys for the family suing Jones told Judge Maya Guerra Gamble that filing for bankruptcy would not stop the process.
The company wants to “leave that part of the odyssey behind so we have some numbers” set for damages, Reynal said.
The bankruptcy filing details were not immediately available.
It is not the first time that a bankruptcy filing has come amid litigation against Jones by the Sandy Hook families. In April, Jones’ company, Infowars, and two more of its business entities filed for bankruptcy, leading to a delay in the trial.
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already held Jones liable for libel for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued judgments in absentia against Jones without trials because he did not respond to court orders and did not turn over documents.
Christopher Mattei, attorney for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case, released a statement Friday night criticizing the bankruptcy filing.
“Just two days before jury selection began in Connecticut, Jones once again fled like a coward to bankruptcy court in a transparent attempt to delay confronting the families he has spent years harming,” Mattei said. “These families have infinite patience and remain determined to hold Mr. Jones in a Connecticut courthouse.”
The trial in Austin is to determine how much Jones must pay for defaming Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among 20 children and six educators who were killed in the country’s deadliest school shooting. They and other Sandy Hook families suing Jones say they suffered years of harassment and threats resulting from Jones’ repeated false claims that the shooting was a hoax or didn’t happen.
Jones claimed in court records last year that he had a negative net worth of $20 million, but lawyers for the Sandy Hook families painted a different financial picture.
Court records show that Jones’ Infowars store, which sells nutritional supplements and survival equipment, made more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018. Jones also asked listeners to his Infowars show to donate money.
Associated Press writer Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut contributed to this report.