Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the family of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, one of the 26 people were shot dead in the Sandy Hook massacre.
That’s in addition to the $4 million in compensatory damages the InfoWars host was ordered to pay yesterday to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis.
In his closing statement, a lawyer for the victims’ families said: ‘Alex Jones is worth almost $270 million that we know of. Please take an amount that punishes him, and an amount that ensures he never does this again.’
Earlier on Friday, forensic economist Bernard Pettingill testified on behalf of Lewis’ parents that Jones ‘promulgated some hate speech and some misinformation’ and ‘made a lot of money.’
Jones and InfoWars are worth between $135 million and $270 million combined, Pettingill said.
This is the first of three trials that Jones will face in relation to his claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax. Last year, he was found guilty of defaming the families of the victims.
Two others are set for September, one in Texas and one in Connecticut, where the shooting took place. A total of eight families will be represented in the Connecticut trial.
The 12-person jury on Thursday said Jones must pay the parents $4.1 million in compensatory damages for spreading conspiracy theories about the massacre
Jesse Lewis’ mother, Scarlett Lewis addresses the media following the verdict in Austin
Lewis told the media: ‘This is an important day for truth, for justice and I couldn’t be happier. This has been a long battle, a long time spent — 10 years — and to have the result a strong message to the world that literally, choosing love is what we need to do’
Scarlett Lewis tweeted in the aftermath of the jury’s decision: ‘Sandy Hook happened. Jesse was a hero. Alex Jones was held accountable. Today the jury proved that most of America is ready to choose love over fear and I’ll be forever grateful to them.’
She added: ‘Ironically, Alex Jones ended up giving me a larger platform to share Jesse’s story and message.’ Lewis posted a link to her Choose Love Movement charity’s website.
In court, Lewis said: ‘This is an important day for truth, for justice and I couldn’t be happier. This has been a long battle, a long time spent — 10 years — and to have the result a strong message to the world that literally, choosing love is what we need to do.’
She continued: ‘I got to look into his eyes and I got to tell him the impact his actions had on me and my family. And not just us — all the other Sandy Hook families, all the people that live in Sandy Hook and then the ripple effect that that had throughout the world. That was a cathartic moment for me.’
Following Thursday’s verdict of $4 million in damages, Jones, who was not present in court on Friday, bizarrely invited the Heslin and Lewis to appear on his show ‘to discuss feelings about how the trial unfolded.’
For years Jones claimed on his InfoWars platform that the shooting in Newton was a ‘false flag’ operation perpetrated by the US government to further gun control.
Jones’ lawyer Federico Andino Reynal asked jurors for the fine to be $270,000
Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, becomes emotional during his testimony during the trial for Alex Jones
Jones’ lawyer, Federico Andino Reynal, immediately objected to the ruling citing a Texas law that caps plaintiff compensation at $750,000 per person.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble acknowledged the objection. Speaking the media outside of the courtroom, Reynal said: ‘We are very pleased with the result. We think the jury seriously considered the issues. We think the verdict was too high.’
He went on: ‘Alex Jones will be on the air today, and he will be on the air next week. He’s going to keep doing his job holding our power structure accountable.’
In an interview with Fox Austin, Reynal was asked about Jones’ reaction to the verdict. He said: ‘His reaction was that he’d been found guilty before he ever had a chance to defend this case on the merits. The First Amendment is under siege, and he looks forward to continuing the fight.’
Judge Gamble went on to say she was not blocking Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin’s lawyers from handing over Jones’ phone data to law enforcement. On Wednesday, it emerged that Jones’ lawyers accidentally sent his phone’s data to the Lewis and Heslin’s lawyers. The data contained two years of text messages.
After the judge left the court, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Mark Bankston, said: ‘I’ll take it,’ in response to the verdict.
The damages break down as $4.2 million for defaming Neil Heslin, $20.5 million to Heslin for mental anguish and $20.5 million to Scarlett Lewis for mental anguish.
During the trial, the parents testified that they received harassment and even death threats from Jones’ fans after he made repeated false claims about the shooting.
‘We ask that you send a very, very simple message, and that is: stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies,’ Wesley Todd Ball, a lawyer for the parents, told jurors before they began deliberations.
Reynal asked jurors to return a verdict of $270,000 based on the number of hours Infowars devoted to Sandy Hook coverage.
The 12-person jury on Thursday said Jones must pay the parents $4.1 million in compensatory damages for spreading conspiracy theories about the massacre. That verdict followed a two-week trial in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ radio show and webcast Infowars are based.
Scarlett Lewis, mother of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, tells Alex Jones while testifying in court, “you’re not going to stop’
Mark Bankston, lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, reacts while jurors take a break during closing arguments
Economist Bernard Pettingill Jr. reveals Alex Jones’ estimated net worth and yearly revenue across all of his companies, including offshore account
In an interview with Inside Edition, Jones’ ex-wife, Kelly Jones, said: ‘I know that he’s hidden money. I think he’s got a lot of buckets under a lot of shelves.’
She added: ‘Alex is truly mentally ill. To me, he should be protected from himself and others. He doesn’t have any moral compass, he lives in his own universe and he is a very, in my opinion, delusional man.’
Jones sought to distance himself from the conspiracy theories during his testimony, apologizing to the parents and acknowledging that Sandy Hook was ‘100% real.’
Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems LLC, declared bankruptcy last week. Jones said during a Monday broadcast that the filing will help the company stay on the air while it appeals.
The bankruptcy declaration paused a similar defamation suit by Sandy Hook parents in Connecticut where, as in Texas, he has already been found liable.
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