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A federal bankruptcy judge has stopped the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting from claiming part of the $50 million (£39.5 million) in compensation they won in a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones over his false claim that the massacre was a hoax.

Attorneys for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed in the 2012 Connecticut shooting, obtained an order from a Texas state judge earlier this month allowing them to begin collecting some assets from Jones’ company, Infowars parent company Free Speech Systems.

This order was issued after the company’s insolvency restructuring failed and the lawsuit was dismissed.

But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez in Houston said Thursday that the state judge’s decision contradicts federal bankruptcy law.

Judge Lopez said a new trustee appointed to oversee the liquidation of Jones’ personal assets now has control of Jones’ ownership interest in Free Speech Systems.

Neil Heslin in a cream-colored jacket and glasses wipes his eyes in court
Neil Heslin, the father of six-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, during his testimony in the trial of Alex Jones in August 2022 (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

“I don’t think the state court was actually informed about all of these issues,” Judge Lopez said.

Murray plans to shut down Infowars, the multimillion-dollar company Jones built over the past 25 years selling nutritional supplements, survival gear and other merchandise.

Jones has a personal fortune of about $9 million (£7.1 million), according to recent financial filings in court. Free Speech Systems has about $6 million (£4.74 million) in cash and about $1.2 million (£900,000) worth of inventory, according to recent court testimony.

Bankruptcy lawyers for Jones and his company did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on Thursday. Jones said on his show on Thursday that while Infowars will cease to exist in two to three months, he would resume his broadcasts on another platform that he would have to build from scratch. He also said that Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin’s efforts in Texas state court to recoup some of his assets were “illegal.”

Mr. Murray filed a motion on Sunday asking Judge Lopez to halt Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin’s collection efforts in state court because they were interfering with the closure and liquidation of Jones’s company.

Free Speech Systems, based in Jones’ hometown of Austin, Texas, filed for bankruptcy in July 2022 in the midst of a Texas lawsuit that resulted in $50 million in defamation compensation for Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin.

Jones later filed for personal bankruptcy reorganization in 2022 after relatives of eight children and adults killed in the shooting won a lawsuit in Connecticut.

On June 14, Judge Lopez converted Jones’ personal bankruptcy case to a liquidation case, meaning many of his assets will be sold to pay creditors, except for his primary residence and other assets exempt from liquidation. That same day, Judge Lopez also dismissed Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy case after Jones and the families could not agree on a final plan.

The bankruptcies automatically halted the Sandy Hook families’ efforts to collect compensation from the state lawsuits. Lawyers for Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin said the dismissal of Free Speech System’s lawsuit meant they could go back to Texas state court in Austin and ask a judge to order the company to begin distributing money and other assets to Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin.

“It appears that this case remains in limbo, much to Mr Jones’ delight, while the other group of plaintiffs insists that they are entitled to almost all of the compensation.”

Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin disagreed with relatives in the Connecticut litigation over how to resolve Jones’ bankruptcies and sell his assets.

Relatives in the Connecticut lawsuit had fought the dismissal of Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy case, saying it would lead to a “race” among the Sandy Hook families in state courts in Texas and Connecticut to see who would get to Jones’ fortune first.

The Connecticut plaintiffs supported the trustee’s motion to halt collection efforts in Texas.

“Connecticut families have always sought a fair and equitable distribution of Free Speech System assets for all families, and today’s decision puts us back on that path,” said Christopher Mattei, an attorney for Sandy Hook relatives who sued Jones in Connecticut.

The shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 elementary school students and six teachers dead. Not all of the victims’ families have sued Jones.

Relatives said they were traumatized by Jones’s hoaxes and the actions of his followers. They said they were harassed and threatened by Jones’ followers, some of whom personally confronted the grieving families, saying the shooting never happened and their children never existed. One parent said someone threatened to dig up his dead son’s grave.

Jones has appealed the state court rulings, saying he now believes the shooting happened, but free speech rights would allow him to say it didn’t.